Maurizio Sarri has challenged Alvaro Morata to kick on and rediscover his very best form after scoring the only goal of Thursday night’s Europa League tie against Hungarians MOL Vidi.
The Spaniard missed a sitter in the first half but plugged away, in the face of some robust opponents, to lash home Willian’s nod-down 20 minutes from time.
Morata has endured a miserable spell, which has echoes of the Fernando Torres saga a few years ago, but his second goal of the campaign – his first in six matches – ought to galvanise him.
So too should news of a recall to Spain’s squad.
“I hope so, but he has to start again from this performance,” Sarri said. “I think he has played very well. Better than in the last period. He has to be confident from this performance. I think Alvaro can restart from this performance.
“I am very happy for him. It is very important for him to score – and for him to play a good match because I think he played a good match.
“Of course for us, he’s a very important player. At the moment, we have Alvaro and [Olivier] Giroud but we have to play every three days for a long time – I hope. So he’s a very important player for us – for our season, I think.”
Morata looked emotional after his goal and close to tears. “If after a goal he wants to cry, I hope to see him cry very often,” said his boss.
Sarri also had reason to be happy with a decent cameo off the bench from the oft-maligned Ross Barkley, who has also been recalled to his national team.
“I am very happy for him,” said the Italian. “He had a very serious injury last season, now he’s recovering very well and he’s improving – match by match, week by week.
“I am very happy with him and I think that he can have a very important future in this club and for the national team.”