Alvaro Morata was not the third-choice signing as he was always a priority for Juventus, insists head coach Andrea Pirlo.
Spain striker Morata sealed his return to Turin on an initial season-long deal from Atletico Madrid, with Juve retaining an option to make the deal permanent for €45million or pay an additional €10m to loan him for a further campaign.
Juve had been tipped to sign Luis Suarez from Barcelona before the deal broke down and he joined Atleti, while Edin Dzeko was also linked with a move from Roma.
But Morata arrived instead to fill a void left by Gonzalo Higuain’s departure to Inter Miami, with the 27-year-old having left to re-join Real Madrid in 2016 and subsequently spending time at Chelsea and Atleti.
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Pirlo, who started his coaching career with a convincing 3-0 win over Sampdoria last week, said the fact he previously played alongside Morata was a big draw.
“We were waiting for a striker and he arrived,” he told a news conference ahead of the Serie A clash against Roma on Sunday.
“Alvaro Morata knows us well and I was fortunate enough to have played with him.
“He was not a third choice but one of our priorities, from a technical and tactical aspect he’s what we were looking for.”
Dzeko is set to come up against Juve at Stadio Olimpico and Pirlo acknowledged the threat he poses.
“He could have been a Juve striker, but he remains a great player,” Pirlo added. “We respect him, but unfortunately he will be an opponent tomorrow.”
Pirlo has a couple of selection posers to ponder against Roma with midfielder Arthur – a close-season arrival from Barca – in contention having been an unused substitute against Sampdoria, while forward Paulo Dybala returned to training this week after a muscular issue.
“We’ve worked with Paulo Dybala, who has gradually returned with the group,” Pirlo said. “Let’s see how he feels today and whether he can travel to Rome.
“Also, Arthur is coming from a period of inactivity but has worked very well. He’s settling in, from a tactical and physical point of view.
“He hasn’t played much at Barcelona either. He needs a period of acclimatisation, he’s available tomorrow and we’ll see whether to let him play or not.”