La Liga: Morata may become latest to cross the Real-Barca border
Thursday's reports that Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has set his sights on Alvaro Morata came as a surprise for more reasons than one.
The striker, 12121/1 to be Serie A top goalscorer this season, is currently on loan at Juventus but after a mixed spell is thought to want out of his final six months in Italy.
No way home for Alvaro
Thus, a tricky transfer triangle could be about to emerge, especially as parent club Atletico Madrid are thought to be unwilling to take him back due to already having Luis Suarez, Joao Felix and Antoine Griezmann in their front-line, the latter on-loan from Barca.
There is also the added dilemma that might hamper his move to Barcelona. Morata is a former two-time La Liga champion and double Champions League winner with the Blaugrana's bitter rivals, Real Madrid.
If he does move to Camp Nou, he will join only Bernd Schuster and the extremely brave Miquel Soler, who also featured for Espanyol, in wearing the jerseys of the big three.
He would also be listed alongside some famous faces in playing for both Real and Barca, with over 30 men having represented both over the years.
Figo upsets the fans
Having been a cornerstone of Florentino Perez's first presidential bid, Luis Figo's move from Barcelona to Real in the summer of 2000 was a landmark for the Galactico era and a flashpoint for this rivalry.
The Portuguese winger was the best player in the world at the time and would go on to win that year's Ballon d'Or.
However, having made over 200 appearances for the Blaugrana, his switch of allegiance was deemed unacceptable by the Camp Nou crowd and he was the recipient of a hostile reception on every occasion he returned to the ground.
Coins, a knife, a glass whiskey bottle and even a pig's head were thrown at him while taking set-pieces. Fair play to Figo, as the now 49-year-old accepted the abuse with a degree of humour, even taking time to move some of the missiles by hand before giving the Barcelona fans the thumbs up in a November 2002 draw.
Oh wow, Enrique
Another Luis to cross the divide in controversial circumstances was Luis Enrique, who headed to Catalonia in 1996 saying he felt underappreciated at the Bernabeu.
Having won three trophies in five years with Real, it took a while for the Barcelona fans to warm to him. However, scoring five times in El Clasicos certainly helped, with his all-action displays enabling the Blaugrana to win two league titles during his stay.
Enrique is another player to have played more than 200 games for both clubs, while his status as a former Barca captain made him an obvious choice when appointed as coach in 2014.
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The 51-year-old won the treble in his first season in charge and now back as coach of Spain, his La Roja team are 8/1 to win World Cup 2022.
Laudrup links up with Real
A key part of Johan Cryuff's 'Dream Team', Michael Laudrup's relationship with the Dutchman always had the potential to explode and so it did in 1994.
The Dane wasted little time in joining Real and his influence helped them win their first La Liga title in five years.
Interestingly, both his last El Clasico for Barcelona and his first for Los Blancos saw him finish on the right side of 5-0 scorelines.
Despite only spending two seasons in the capital, Laudrup still did enough to be voted Real's 12th greatest player ever in 2002.
Not always a direct route
This trio of transfers has arguably been the three most controversial of all time, but others have played for both El Clasico outfits via different routes.
Ronaldo won European trophies with both having spent time in between at Inter Milan, while Mallorca were Samuel Eto'o's stepping stone from the Bernabeu to the Blaugrana.
Famously, Alfredo Di Stefano also signed for both, but at the same time! A legal dispute ensued, after which they agreed to share his rights with the condition that he would swap clubs in alternate seasons.
However, after struggling early on at Real, Barca agreed to sell their stake and the rest is history. After eight La Ligas and five European Cups, it could be argued that this was the biggest transfer blunder in history.
Morata might be a fix
Back to the matter at hand and Xavi's apparent desire to sign Morata would see the continuation of his rebuild, having already signed Ferran Torres from Manchester City.
Barcelona begin 2022 sat seventh in the La Liga standings, 18 points behind Real and are 1/1000 for a top four finish.
Alongside Torres' deal, a more technical target man than the on-loan Luuk de Jong might be what is needed to stitch the ragged seams of their frayed season.
A move for Morata would seemingly suit all parties and a speedy solution could boost 11/10 Barca ahead of Sunday's trip to Mallorca.
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