Thursday 20 October 2016

Chelsea open talks over Alvaro Morata transfer

Matt Law

Published 06/06/2016 | 14:35

Spain's Alvaro Morata (left) and Thiago Alcantara
Spain's Alvaro Morata (left) and Thiago Alcantara

Chelsea have opened talks over a move for striker Alvaro Morata, following Arsenal’s bid for Jamie Vardy.

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Morata and Romelu Lukaku are Chelsea’s top striker targets this summer and talks are now taking place regarding the Spaniard.

Any deal for Morata is complicated by the fact Real Madrid want to activate his £23million buy-back clause before selling him on for a profit.

But Chelsea want to make positive steps towards finding an agreement for Morata, who Real value at around £40m, before the 23-year-old plays in the European Championships.

Morata is with the Spain squad, but that should not provide Chelsea with a problem before Vicente del Bosque’s men begin their tournament campaign against Czech Republic next Monday.

Chelsea also remain interested in re-signing Lukaku, but any bid for the Belgian has been delayed by Everton’s search for a new manager.

Lukaku wants to re-join Chelsea, but has also attracted interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and United. It is not inconceivable that Chelsea attempt to sign both Morata and Lukaku, with on-loan Alexandre Pato and Loic Remy poised to leave, and Atletico Madrid interested in re-signing Diego Costa.

Incoming Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte made Morata and Lukaku his two top targets at Juventus two years ago before leaving to manage the Italian national team.

Juve signed Morata over Lukaku, who moved to Everton, and the Spain international has scored 27 goals in two seasons in Italy.

Conte is a big fan of his pace, energy and work-rate, and is understood to believe Morata could play through the middle on his own or as part of a front two. Chelsea had feared they would face strong competition for Morata from Premier League rivals Arsenal and Manchester United.

But Arsenal instead decided to trigger the £20m release clause in Vardy’s Leicester City contract, while United are closing in on the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Morata himself has expressed an interest in moving to the Premier League and would like greater clarity over his future before the start of Euro 2016.

He said: “Hopefully everything will be resolved before then, because it is uncomfortable to be helping your country with phone in hand.

“My wish is to succeed in Madrid, but Madrid have great players and what I want is to play and feel important.

“There are some offers from England that are tempting, not only because of the contract. I think my characteristics mean the Premier League would be a great destination.

“With what I have learned in Italy, if I have the chance to learn something more in England I think it would make me a more complete player. I am 23 years old and I want to progress, to play and learn from the best.”

Morata would have no problem settling in at Chelsea, who already have Spanish internationals Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Cesar Azpilicueta in their squad. Conte does not officially start work as Chelsea head coach until after the Euros, but that has not stopped the club making a start on trying to sign his transfer targets.

As well as starting talks over Morata, Chelsea have also been in negotiations with Roma over midfielder Radja Nainggolan and defenders Antonio Rudiger and Kostas Manolas, and the Blues hope to make significant progress over at least one deal this week.

One player who is unlikely to move to Roma as part of any incoming transfer deal is Charly Musonda. The Belgian teenager is believed to have turned down the prospect of spending next season on loan in Italy and wants to return to Real Betis.

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