Morata debut likely to occur at Kallang

Real Madrid's striker Alvaro Morata during a reception at the Madrid regional government's headquarter in Madrid, Spain, on May 22, 2017.
Real Madrid's striker Alvaro Morata during a reception at the Madrid regional government's headquarter in Madrid, Spain, on May 22, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

Spanish striker passes Chelsea medical, could don club colours for the first time during ICC

LONDON • Alvaro Morata's first outing in a Chelsea shirt is likely to be in Singapore.

The Spanish striker, 24, was expected yesterday to complete his £58 million (S$102 million) move to the London football club, after passing his medical examination.

But the formalities will not be completed in time for him to make his debut for Chelsea today, when they play Arsenal in Beijing.

This means that he will join the Chelsea squad when they reach Singapore. Antonio Conte's men are scheduled to fly straight to the Republic after their Beijing match.

On Tuesday, they will play Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup at the National Stadium, where Morata could put on a Chelsea jersey for the first time, reported The Telegraph.

Another of Chelsea's recent signings, German central defender Antonio Rudiger, is also expected to join Conte's squad in Singapore after completing his post-Confederations Cup break.

On Thursday, when Morata arrived in London, he hailed the English champions as "the best club" and Conte as "one of the world's best coaches".

"Antonio Conte is one of the best coaches in the world and I'm so happy to work with Antonio," he said.

"The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world and I'm so happy to be here."

He also revealed that he took advice from fellow Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta, the Chelsea full-back, before deciding to join the English outfit from Real Madrid.

"I spoke with Azpilicueta and he told me everything is okay, and he found it easy," said Morata.

Real exercised a buy-back clause to bring Morata back from Juventus a year ago. He joined the Italian club in 2014. just days after Conte's exit in Turin.

He scored 20 goals in 43 appearances last season as Real retained their Champions League crown while edging out Barcelona in the race for the Spanish title.

Morata had previously been linked with a move to Chelsea's Premier League rivals Manchester United, but their interest ended after the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Everton.

Morata's arrival could signal the end of his international team-mate Diego Costa's time at Chelsea, with Costa strongly tipped for a return to Atletico Madrid.

However, despite being hugely gifted, decent in the air, mobile and having a good conversion rate, Morata may not have the same potency that Costa displayed during his time at Chelsea.

"Morata does not have the same capacity to magic a goal from nowhere, by inspiration or aggravation, that Costa does," observed The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'Morata debut likely to occur at Kallang'. Print Edition | Subscribe