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Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has questioned the mental fortitude of Alvaro Morata, likening him to his former Empoli midfielder Riccardo Saponara.

Morata began his Blues career like a house on fire, but has struggled immensely since the turn of the year, scoring just six Premier League goals in 2018.

Who is Riccardo Saponara? Five things to know…

  1. Progressing from the Ravenna academy, Saponara joined Empoli in 2009.
  2. The midfielder flourished under the guidance of Sarri across 2012/13.
  3. His performances earned him a move to AC Milan in 2013 but he failed to impress.
  4. Rejoined Empoli after two seasons and eight appearances at San Siro.
  5. Currently on loan at Sampdoria from parent club Fiorentina.

Five of Morata’s six goals in 2018 have come this season, but the Spaniard has been subject to direct scrutiny and criticism by pundits and fans alike, who have questioned his mental resilience and consistency.

Saponara himself struggled to hit the heights at one of Europe’s great aristocrats, and Sarri believes his current No.29 is having similar confidence issues.

“It’s difficult,” Sarri said (via Goal). “At Empoli I had a wonderful player, Riccardo Saponara, who we sold to AC Milan.

“Saponara was one of the best players I have ever seen, but a little bit mentally fragile.

“Alvaro has scored four or five goals in his last six matches, so I cannot see a big problem. I hope that there will be more this season.

“Every season he scores 15 or 16 goals, so he’s around his average [goal return]. I speak with him every week, but on the pitch he is alone.

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“I think that at the moment he’s not playing to his full potential. It’s difficult.”

“I think Alvaro has a very great physical and technical potential, so I think he can improve more.

“He’s a little bit fragile from the mental point of view. But he’s very young. I think he can improve, improve very fast.”

‘Better than Morata’

If Morata is struggling for form, then the same cannot be said for one of their academy starlets, Tammy Abraham, who scored his first senior hat-trick against Nottingham Forest last week.

Abraham is currently on loan in the Championship with Aston Villa, and has so far netted 11 league goals in just 14 appearances, leading to questions from Blues fans as to why he has not been given a chance at Stamford Bridge.

The two-time England international spent last season with Swansea City, but his exploits were not enough to keep the Welsh outfit in the Premier League, with the 21-year-old netting just five goals.

However, his first spell with Bristol City across the 2016/17 season saw him net 26 goals across all competitions, and he has picked up where he left off in the second-tier with the Villains.

He did, in fact, net four goals against Forest, and there have consequently been cries in west London for Abraham to be given a chance at the club.

Next up for Chelsea is an away trip to Wolves on Wednesday.

The post Sarri compares “mentally fragile” Morata to Saponara appeared first on Squawka News.

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