Chelsea confirms agreement to sign Morata for reported £58M
Antonio Conte finally has his man.
All that's left is for the player to settle personal terms and undergo a medical, according to an official statement.
Morata is expected to arrive for an initial £58-million fee which could rise to £70 million with add-ons, according to the Guardian's Dominic Fifield and Fabrizio Romano. That would surpass the Blues' club-record £50-million outlay for Fernando Torres in 2011.
Morata, who is with Madrid on its summer tour of the United States, must now travel to London to complete the formalities and sign his new five-year contract.
It will officially end his time with his childhood club. He arrived there as a 16-year-old, left for a brief two-year spell in Italy, and returned last summer to win La Liga and the Champions League.
Morata will replace the outbound Diego Costa and reunite with manager Antonio Conte, who was responsible for recruiting the Madrid native to Juventus. Conte left the Italian side before he had time to coach Morata - and now he has that chance.
Morata's name had churned through the rumour mill all summer, with Jose Mourinho's United being one of the first to push for the clinical poacher.
The Red Devils suddenly abandoned that chase, however, and focused their attention on Romelu Lukaku.
United created a domino effect when it wrapped up a reported £75-million deal for the Belgian international earlier this month. It was considered a failure for Chelsea, which had long been considered the frontrunner for Lukaku's signature.
Big-spending Milan then emerged as a serious contender, and allegedly came close to reaching an agreement with Los Blancos.
Wednesday's developments, however, completely flipped the script again.
Now that it has locked up Morata, the Chelsea hierarchy can now focus on off-loading Costa, who made public Conte's plans to ditch the Brazilian-born forward.
Costa was excused from the Blues' pre-season activities amid reports of a return to Atletico Madrid.
Despite scoring 20 Premier League goals last season, Costa struggled in the second half of the title-winning term. His relationship with Conte after a January bust-up in training didn't seem to improve.
Conte - who signed an improved contract with the west London side on Tuesday - can now count on Morata to lead Chelsea's line in multiple competitions.
A technical striker with a fantastic conversion rate, Morata has an opportunity to become a protagonist for the first time in his senior career. He has never made more than 16 league starts in a single campaign, but still managed to hit the back of the net without the luxury of regular playing time.
His 15 goals in La Liga last campaign were second in team scoring to Cristiano Ronaldo.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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