Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata has revealed he did have talks with Barcelona manager Xavi amid reports of a potential move in the January transfer window.
At the start of the year Barcelona were in the market for a new striker, after Lionel Messi’s departure in the summer and Sergio Aguero’s sudden retirement due to health issues. The club had had Martin Braithwaite and Memphis Depay among their ranks but neither were trusted with being Barcelona’s leading man.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was eventually signed, before Robert Lewandowski took over as the star man for 2022/23. In just eight appearances across all competitions, Lewandowski has already scored 11 goals for his new club, carrying over his Bayern Munich form.
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Aubameyang also had a decent half-season with Barcelona, scoring 13 goals in 24 appearances including 11 in La Liga to help the Blaugrana secure Champions League qualification. But things could have been a lot difference.
Before Aubameyang signed, Morata was one of the players being heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, albeit only on loan. The Spaniard was already on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid and had been a reliable player for Massimiliano Allegri albeit not an outstanding one.
The interest sparked some confusion from football fans who remember Morata more for his unhappy spell at Chelsea and the occasional poor misses that do litter his career, but the top coaches do like the Spaniard. After all, he has played for Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Juventus, as well as being Luis Enrique’s leading man for Spain.
And it turns out the rumours of Barcelona’s interest in Morata weren’t untrue, with the Spaniard revealing he spoke to Xavi but a move was shut down by both Atletico Madrid and Allegri.
“There were options to go to Barça,” Morata told reporters.
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“I went to speak with Allegri and he told me I wasn’t going anywhere, that he wanted me to play with (Dusan) Vlahovic. I had another four or five offers, all of them really good, but in the end Atletico had the final word.
“Xavi called me and spoke about football. It’s an honour that a coach like Xavi has you in mind. [He was convincing], even more when he has someone you have seen play since you were little and seen around Las Rozas.”
Staying at Juventus, Morata shared the pitch with Vlahovic 18 times and they directly combined for three goals, all with the Spaniard assisting his teammate. But Morata is now back in Spain with Atletico Madrid and has three goals in six league games so far this season.