Julen Lopetegui has become the latest coach to go public with their doubts about Alvaro Morata, leaving the striker out of his Spain squad for the first time.
It was always a bold decision to leave Real Madrid having never been Zinedine Zidane’s first choice and it was going very well for Morata in Chelsea during the opening half of the campaign, scoring 12 times in 26 games.
Since the turn of the year, that story has changed. Without a goal in 2018, Morata has only started four of his 12 appearances as Antonio Conte loses faith in the Spaniard.
First it was a back injury that took him out the team, causing uncertainty that led his coach to remark that he could be out for ‘a day, a month or a season’.
Returning from that, Morata found that the similar Michy Batshuayi had been sent out on loan and replaced by an altogether different style of forward, Olivier Giroud.
Neither man has been able to nail down the Blues’ leading role in attack, leading Eden Hazard to start in the middle for the first leg against Barcelona before Giroud was entrusted at the Camp Nou.
Brought off the bench on Wednesday night, Morata struggled to make an impact and was caught responding to the home fans’ taunts about his Real Madrid past, indicating that his concentration was far away from where it should have been.
Conte had fought hard to sign the striker from Los Blancos having already done so for Juventus, before leaving for the Italy job, and looked to be the coach that finally gave him what he needed: total trust and confidence.
Now that appears to be on the wane, Morata has seemingly lost it from the only other man who had it in him, Spain boss Lopetegui.
This being the first Roja squad he has missed out on since October 2014, the 25-year-old now has two-and-a-half months to prove that he is worth a ticket to the World Cup.