Alvaro Morata has left Chelsea for Atletico Madrid, signing a loan deal at the Wanda Metropolitano and bringing an end to a miserable spell in England.
The former Real Madrid forward failed to build on a promising start to life at Stamford Bridge and the writing has been on the wall for some time, with an 18-month switch to Atleti finally completed on Monday. Morata might not be too hard on himself, though, as he is merely the latest Chelsea striker to falter in the void left by Champions League winner Didier Drogba, with the Blues hopeful new man Gonzalo Higuain can instead step up. Amid mixed results in the transfer market, even Drogba himself, who left after inspiring the 2012 European triumph, made a return in 2014-15 to help Chelsea to another Premier League crown. Goals continue to be a problem for Maurizio Sarri’s men as Morata joins a rather uninspiring list… A TORRID TIME FOR TORRES Fernando Torres actually arrived at Stamford Bridge in January 2011, when Drogba was still at the club. The Spaniard had torn Premier League defences to shreds with Liverpool but looked a shadow of himself after joining from Anfield for £50m. In terms of trophies, Torres’ time at the Bridge was a success as he picked up the Champions League, an FA Cup and the Europa League but on an individual basis his spell was probably best summed up by an open-goal miss at Old Trafford having rounded Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. ‘OLD MAN’ ETO’O SHINES BRIEFLY A Champions League winner with both Barcelona and Inter, Samuel Eto’o signed a one-year deal at the Bridge for the 2013-14 campaign. The undoubted highlight of his nine goals in 21 league matches was a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over United, while he also raised a smile from manager Jose Mourinho with a celebration pretending to be an elderly man after the Portuguese had questioned the true age of his striker. COSTA’S COSTLY ROW WITH CONTE Easily the greatest success story of this selection, Diego Costa’s goals inspired Chelsea’s title-winning campaigns of 2014-15 and 2016-17 as he netted 20 in each. However, a row with manager Antonio Conte – who had told the forward he was not part of his plans – meant Costa was left out in the cold before securing a return to Atletico. MORE TEDDY BEAR THAN EL TIGRE A loan from Monaco to United in 2014-15 had not gone to plan for Radamel Falcao, but that did not stop Chelsea from borrowing the striker from the Ligue 1 club for the following campaign. What followed was another year of anonymity that produced a solitary goal from 12 appearances across all competitions. WHAT’S THE MORATA WITH ALVARO? Chelsea’s then-record signing, for a reported £60m from Real Madrid ahead of 2017-18, Morata looked increasingly devoid of confidence in front of goal at Stamford Bridge. A return of 15 in all competitions was far from disastrous in his debut season but this term he has worn the look of a man who has forgotten what it is he is supposed to be doing. A return to Madrid, this time with Atletico, will be welcomed by all parties. FUTURE UNCERTAIN FOR SUPER-SUB GIROUD A January signing from Arsenal last year, Olivier Giroud has been largely restricted to substitute appearances, with just 12 of his 31 Premier League outings coming as a starter, despite showing signs of an excellent understanding with Eden Hazard. What does the future hold for the Frenchman in light of Higuain’s arrival? THE SUPPORTING CAST The likes of Michy Batshuayi, Alexandre Pato, Loic Remy and Demba Ba have all tried, and failed, to fill the sizeable boots left by Drogba. Chelsea will be desperate for Higuain not to join that collection of struggling strikers.