Belfast Telegraph

Paul Clement happy to see Alvaro Morata proving critics wrong at Chelsea

Swansea boss Paul Clement faces a reunion with Alvaro Morata delighted that the Chelsea striker has proved his early-season critics wrong.

The pair worked together at Real Madrid when Clement was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant and Morata was trying to nail down a first-team place.

Morata won a Champions League winners' medal under Ancelotti in the 2013-14 season, but he then joined Juventus with his game time limited by the presence of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I worked with Alvaro a lot because what you find as a coach is that the regulars are playing and recovering all the time and he was sometimes getting on and training more," Clement said.

"He was always a hard working player who loved to work on his game, and with greater minutes at big clubs his levels have gone up.

"He's strong, quick, good in the air and knows what it's like to play for a big club.

"He's played at Real Madrid and Juventus, arguably the two biggest clubs in those leagues, and has now made a good adaptation at Chelsea."

Morata spent two seasons at Juventus - winning two Serie A titles and playing in another Champions League final - before Real Madrid exercised their buy-back clause in 2016.

The 25-year-old won another Champions League winners' medal in Spain before he joined Chelsea last summer in a deal worth around £60million.

Morata has scored nine goals in 18 appearances since succeeding Diego Costa as the focal point of the Chelsea attack but has still had to win some people over.

"The critics were on him immediately," Clement said.

"It was only two or three games into the season and they were onto him saying he was not good enough.

"They were saying Costa is way better and Alvaro was not the right replacement, but I felt then that everyone should calm down.

"Now he's scoring and performing, and when he's not in the team people are saying 'We need Morata back'."

Swansea head to Chelsea - where Clement worked in a variety of roles and was assistant manager between 2009 and 2011 - with only one win in 10 Premier League games.

But Clement was encouraged by Saturday's goalless draw against Bournemouth, which saw summer signing Roque Mesa make only his second league start and Swansea revert to a diamond formation in midfield.

"As soon as I put the players in the positions on the training ground, I got a lot of confidence from that," Clement said.

"It's a system that suits the type of players we've got.

"I feel like they know it better than some of the other ones and that there are less square pegs in round holes.

"There's a better blend and I think that carried over into the game."

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