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Atletico Madrid, Morata try to leave behind Real Madrid days

Club Atletico de Madrid unveil new signing Alvaro Morata

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 29: Alvaro Morata of Club Atletico de Madrid poses for a photo with Enrique Cerezo, President of Club Atletico de Madrid (R) and Andrea Berta, Sports Manager of Club Atletico de Madrid (L) during the Club Atletico de Madrid player presentation of Alvaro Morata at Wanda Metropolitano on January 29, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid did its best to distance Alvaro Morata from his days with rival Real Madrid.

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The newly signed striker was officially presented on Tuesday, with Atletico showing a video that included images of Morata wearing Atletico’s jersey as a kid and teenager.

Atletico signed him on Monday to an 18-month loan from Chelsea, bringing him back to where he started playing as a child. But many Atletico fans have criticized the transfer because of his past with Real Madrid.

“The important thing is that I’m here,” Morata said. “I signed with Atletico and I feel like I’m part of this club once again.”

The 26-year-old Morata played in Atletico’s youth program before joining Real Madrid’s academy in 2008. He eventually became a first-team player for Real Madrid and helped it to win two Champions League titles.

Chelsea enticed him in 2017 with a club-record fee of $75 million, but Morata’s playing time and goal production declined.

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“There have been many twists and turns in my life, but destiny wanted me to end up here,” Morata said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be here.”

Atletico visits Real Betis on Sunday, and its next league match is at home against Real Madrid a week later. Atletico next month also faces Juventus - where Morata played for two seasons - in the round of 16 of the Champions League.

After being asked what he would do if he scored against his former teams, Morata said only that it would a “good problem” to have.

“Hopefully I’ll have to think about that a lot, because it would mean that things are going well,” he said.

Morata has 82 goals and 37 assists in his career. He also has 27 appearances and 13 goals for Spain. One of his Spain teammates was Diego Costa, whom he will likely compete with for a starting spot in Diego Simeone’s squad.

“I consider Diego my friend,” Morata said. “I don’t see why we can’t play together. It’s always easy when you are playing with great players by your side.”