The Big Match

Football: Strike duo aim to thrive at Community Shield despite being unexpected arrivals

New Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata racing ahead of Bayern Munich players at the recent International Champions Cup Singapore tournament. The £58 million signing was initially wanted by Blues rivals Manchester United.
New Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata racing ahead of Bayern Munich players at the recent International Champions Cup Singapore tournament. The £58 million signing was initially wanted by Blues rivals Manchester United.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

LONDON • Had the close season panned out as initially expected, Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata would not be lining up for Arsenal and Chelsea respectively in today's Community Shield at Wembley.

After 14 years at Lyon, Lacazette decided it was time to move on and was reported to have agreed to join up with his France team-mate Antoine Griezmann at Atletico Madrid.

However, the Spanish side had a transfer ban upheld over the signing of foreign minors, and with the club barred from registering new players until January, Arsenal stepped in.

A dead-eyed finisher, the 26-year-old Lacazette was the top-scoring Frenchman in each of the last three Ligue One seasons and left Lyon having scored 113 goals in his last four campaigns.

He cost Arsenal a club-record initial fee of £46.5 million (S$82.5 million), but Gunners manager Arsene Wenger has warned that Lacazette will still need time to find his feet.

"Sometimes it takes a few months, sometimes it takes very little time," he said.

"The only thing I must say is that week after week, he looks to adapt quickly. But overall I think it will take him one or two months."

Morata's move to England was no surprise, but the Spain international had been earmarked for a move to Manchester United.

Instead, the Red Devils beat Chelsea to signing Romelu Lukaku, and the Blues were forced to switch their attentions to Morata.

The 24-year-old cost Chelsea £58 million and is due to take the place of volatile striker Diego Costa, who wants to return to Atletico.

Morata arrives after a frustrating season as a back-up player at Real Madrid, and despite the striker's inability to dislodge Karim Benzema from Real's starting line-up, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes he can reach the very top.

"He is a young player and my task is to help him improve and exploit his quality," said the Italian.

"I know he has great quality to become one of the best strikers in the world."

Lacazette and Morata will have their initial taste of English football today in the traditional curtain-raiser to the Premier League season.

And it remains to be seen who will get his hands on his first silverware in England, hopefully with a goal or two to his name as well.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 06, 2017, with the headline 'Strike duo aim to thrive despite being unexpected arrivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe