Alvaro Morata’s torrid spell at Chelsea is effectively over after the striker moved to Atletico Madrid on an 18-month loan deal on Monday.
Morata was signed by Chelsea as Diego Costa’s replacement, but now the 26-year-old has followed Costa to the Wanda Metropolitano.
The Spain striker moved to Stamford Bridge on a five-year deal in July 2017 in a £60million move from Real Madrid, but he was a member of Atletico’s academy.
“I’m very happy and proud to be here. I can’t wait to start training, meet my new teammates and play,” Morata said on Atletico’s website.
His departure after 18 months, featuring 24 goals in 72 appearances, 24 of them as a substitute, had been telegraphed for some time and Gonzalo Higuain’s arrival on loan last week effectively sealed his move.
Morata has cut a forlorn figure at Chelsea and told Maurizio Sarri of his desire to leave last month.
He will have two years left on his Chelsea deal by the end of the 2019-20 season, when the loan ends, but it is unlikely he will play for Chelsea again.
Chelsea signed Morata from Real ahead of Manchester United and the striker, who had previously impressed during a loan spell at Juventus in Serie A, showed initial promise.
Arguably Morata’s best performance for the Blues came at Atletico, weeks into his first season and the day after Costa’s return to Madrid had been finalised.
He scored eight goals in his first eight Chelsea appearances, including in the 2-1 Champions League win at Atletico.
A six-match goal drought was followed by the winner against Manchester United and he had 13 goals before the turn of the year.
But Morata’s goal in the April 1 loss to Tottenham was his only Premier League strike of 2018, until August’s defeat of Arsenal.
A lack of confidence was clearly evident as Morata missed some straightforward chances for a player of his calibre, while niggling injuries contributed to a lack of continuity in match action.
Antonio Conte’s frustration with Morata was evident and his successor as head coach, Sarri, has favoured Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard as a ‘false nine’ at times this season.
Morata’s final appearance for Chelsea was the 2-0 FA Cup third-round win over Nottingham Forest, when he scored both goals to take his tally for the campaign to nine goals.