Alvaro Morata came off the bench to make his first Chelsea appearance during a 3-2 defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday – but were the Blues right to sign the former Real Madrid striker instead of Romelu Lukaku? We check the stats…
Lukaku appeared set for a Chelsea return this summer after rejecting a new contract at Everton to fulfil Champions League ambitions, while Morata was linked with Manchester United.
But Jose Mourinho splashed £90m to prise Lukaku from Goodison Park earlier this month before Morata completed a £70m move to Chelsea last week.
Both strikers are just 24 years old and set to replace high-profile target men at their respective clubs, with Diego Costa reportedly set to leave Stamford Bridge and Zlatan Ibrahimovic departing United after suffering a long-term knee injury in April.
However, despite the blockbuster fee, Morata has never completed more than 1,500 league minutes in a top-flight season – registering peak game-time during his two-season spell at Juventus in Serie A before Real triggered a buy-back clause in July 2016.
The Spain international started 14 of his 26 La Liga appearances for Los Blancos last term and scored 15 goals – surpassing 10 for the first time in his career.
In contrast, Lukaku has exceeded 2,000 minutes for five consecutive Premier League seasons with Chelsea, West Brom and Everton – scoring or surpassing 15 league goals in four of those and hitting a career-high 25 last season.
So the Belgian has superior domestic and international experience than his Spanish counterpart, but Morata’s limited time on the pitch with Madrid was due to competition from Galactico team-mates such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
So how to the two players’ stats compare?
Morata scored more goals per 90 minutes than Lukaku last season, with the majority coming with his favoured right foot, while Lukaku struck 12 with his preferred left.
The Spain international is also far more likely to score from range, hitting two from open play during his La Liga campaign last season compared to Lukaku’s one goal that came direct from a rare free-kick effort.
Perhaps surprisingly, Morata also surpassed the Belgian for headed goals on average, with both strikers netting six but Lukaku playing more than twice as many minutes.
In terms of creating goals and ball distribution, both players recorded similar stats – but Morata edged Lukaku for assists, shots on target and dribbles.
Lukaku tends to drift to the right flank and Morata can play on the left, with the former hitting a higher number of crosses on average, completing more passes and creating more chances.
Both players are evenly matched for winning duels and taking touches on the ball, but Chelsea’s new frontman surpasses Lukaku for tackles and fouls won.
However, Lukaku wins far more aerials per 90 minutes – despite only being 2cm taller. Given Morata’s superior headed goal ratio, those stats might also point towards Everton’s efforts to target Lukaku from deep and wide positions.
Diego Costa has frequently struggled with discipline at Chelsea and the Blues’ new target man is also prone to a caution, collecting eight yellow cards during his limited 1,331 minutes in La Liga last term and conceding 31 fouls.
The Spain international was also caught offside far more frequently than Lukaku on average, in addition to missing more big chances and hitting a higher number of shots off target.
Both players will reveal strengths and weaknesses under the spotlight this season and will hope to spearhead title-challenging campaigns following blockbuster summer moves.Euro Soccer Bonus
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