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Morata repaying Juve’s faith as Villarreal showdown looms

MILAN (AFP) – Alvaro Morata feels at home again at Juventus as the Italians try to convert their ominous domestic form into European success in today’s Champions League decider with Villarreal.

The Spain striker’s double in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Sampdoria underlined a recent rise in form since being told he was not surplus to requirements in Turin, and he has been a key part in Juve’s grinding unbeaten run.

After looking set to leave for Barcelona in January Morata – who is on loan from Atletico Madrid – is again key to coach Massimiliano Allegri’s plans.

His burgeoning partnership with new signing Dusan Vlahovic is one of the reasons Juve are pushing to keep him in Turin.

Morata’s option for a permanent move at the end of the season is fixed at EUR35 million, but Juve are reportedly trying to renegotiate to secure Morata’s services for 10 million less.

“In January I spoke to Allegri, and before that talk I didn’t feel particularly important,” Morata said after his brace.

“But when your boss tells you what he thinks of you, gives you encouragement and tells you that he rates you, that gives you strength.”

Juve head into today’s clash at the Allianz Stadium on the crest of a wave as their long run without defeat in the league has taken them to the edge of Italy’s title race.

A dreadful start to the season left returning coach Massimiliano Allegri with a huge task to make something of the campaign, but since late November Juve have only lost once in all competitions.

Juventus’ Spanish forward Alvaro Morata. PHOTO: AFP