Speculation abounds today that Arsenal have made contact with Italian champions Juventus about the possibility of signing forward Alvaro Morata.
Prices being bandied about for the 23-year-old Spaniard vary – depending on which media outlet you follow – from £25million right up to a record-busting £50million.
Of course, as soon as one reasonably reliable news source breaks with the story, all others follow suit and turn a kernel of truth into a veritable orgy of misinformation, speculation and outright guff.
That said, Arsene Wenger has made it known that, in the absence of Danny Welbeck, the club will be in the market for a striker and the Spaniard – who comes with plenty of cup and title-winning pedigree – would fit that brief.
Here is what we know about him:
He has eight caps for the Spanish national side, with a solitary goal to his name. He was a prolific goal-scorer with the Spanish U19 and U21 sides, however, notching 24 goals in 26 appearances between the two teams.
He kicked off his career in style with Real Madrid B – the Spanish outfit’s development squad – scoring 45 goals in 83 appearances before earning himself a call up to the senior side.
It’s fair to say he wasn’t quite so free-scoring in the first team, though, with just 11 goals scored in 52 appearances between 2010-2014.
In 2014 he was courted by Italian side Juventus and was eventually sold to the Serie A side for a fee in the region of £15million – though it has been reported that Real Madrid inserted a buy-back clause into the contract.
In his two years in Italy, Morata has managed 26 goals in 92 appearances, averaging a goal roughly every 3.5 games. By comparison, in his four years at Arsenal, Olivier Giroud has scored 82 goals in 188 appearances, averaging a goal roughly every 2.3 games.
According to the statisticians at whoscored.com, Morata has assisted 14 goals in his time at Juventus. He has clocked up an average of 2.15 shots per game for the Italians, as well as registering 0.95 key passes per game.
Should Arsenal buy him?
Clearly, at 23-years-old, Morata still has his best years ahead of him, with plenty to learn and time to develop into a quality striker.
But I find myself asking, does he score enough goals? At 23, and even before that, the likes of Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, and Thierry Henry were already scoring bagfuls of goals. A criticism frequently and noisily made of Olivier Giroud is that he does not score enough goals, is that a situation that Morata would change, given his record in recent years?
Perhaps under the tutelage of Arsene, he would flourish and become the player officials at Real Madrid clearly expected that he would be – after all, it worked for Thierry.
But is that a £50million gamble that’s worth taking? Two or three years ago, I would have said yes. Given the current climate, however, with the rancour and impatience around every result, can we really afford time for a striker to return only 15-20 goals?