In a torrid day of late June 2016, Alvaro Borja Morata Martin returned to his home, Real Madrid. He returned tearful, against his will, because in Turin he exploded as a footballer.
After playing second or third fiddle and despite winning another Champions League with Los Blancos, Morata left Real and became a journeyman of sorts. First with Chelsea, then fulfilling his dream of playing for the club that rivaled his own, Atletico Madrid. But it never felt right. It never felt like Juve.
For this reason, and as soon as he could, Morata moved mountains to return to Turin. And how the transfer took place is full of spice. No, better: pizza alla napoletana. In fact, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis refuses to deal Arkadius Milik to Roma because he knows that the giallorossi will in turn sell Edin Dzeko to Juventus.
Juventus brass wait for weeks, considering alternatives such as Barcelona's Luis Suarez in the meantime. Until a Plan C emerges. Alvarito is excited, and his Italian wife - awaiting their third child imminently - is in the most classic definition of a "nesting" stage: booking a private jet and tending to every detail for their return to Turin. Morata sweetens the deal by offering to lower his wages. Juventus accept.
Morata, a third choice. "It's not true, we wanted someone with his skillset,” said Pirlo right after the deal was sealed.
Il Maestro believes in him and throws him in, right from kick off against Roma. But it's an insipid debut, after all he had only landed in Turin only a few days prior. Then, Morata turns on the jets: a goal in Crotone, an assist against Hellas Verona, then the opener and another assist in Cesena against Spezia.
More intelligent, more mature, more of a team player. This is the Alvaro Morata of today.
Something special happens when Morata hears that Champions League anthem and dons the black and white. Recalling magical European nights in Munich, Dortmund, and Madrid (taking Juventus to the 2015 Champions League final), Alvaro picks up right where he left off. In stadiums that feature thousands of fans (unlike in Italy, due to restrictions) Morata scores heavy goals. The first, in the stadium that hosted the Euro 2012 final, Alvaro scores both goals in a 2-0 defeat over Dynamo Kiev, giving Juventus three important points for Juve's future in the tournament.
The second brace, also away from home, is in the Puskas Arena (named after one of the most prolific goalscorers of the 1950's). Morata is inspired by the Hungarian hero and scores the first and second goal of the match putting the game on ice, in a match that saw the bianconeri defeat Hungarian champions Ferencváros. Truth be told, Morata would have scored three goals had he not been so generous in front of goal, preferring to serve Ronaldo an assist instead.
Morata's impressive tally would be even richer had it not been for five goals called offside after VAR review, giving way to some fun on social media where fans re-baptized him "AlVARo Morata".
Today Morata's foot is so hot, that he's fixed in Juve's starting XI. Working in silence, sacrificing himself with his head down and scoring goals.
And humble: "I take advantage of the quality of my teammates to do well", he said in an interview that followed his brace in Hungary,"I feel wanted, I have everything one needs to be well. If we continue in this fashion, we can go far".
A magical moment cannot last endlessly. Juventus' stutter start to the season - despite a relatively easy schedule - is coming to a close with fellow Champions League participants Lazio on the doorstep and more insidious adversaries down the stretch. The issue will be managing the difficult moments, like that which his attacking mate Paulo Dybala is going through. Time will tell.
Luckily for him, and for Juventus, there is a player who raises everyone's level, a "great teammate, who helps everyone, I've always seen him so. I hope that he's taking us higher and higher" - he's talking of Cristiano Ronaldo of course.