The Internet was abuzz with rumours touting a shock move to Arsenal for Spanish international centre-forward Fernando Llorente in late May.
Sources such as the Daily Mail and The Week suggested a £28 million move was in the cards for the Athletic Club Bilbao number nine. While this supposition eventually proved inconclusive, the likely departure of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie has made Llorente a particularly attractive transfer prospect once more.
Despite already shoring up Arsenal's attacking corps with the signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud—the latter, it has been revealed, was bought partially as a back-up should van Persie eventually decide to leave— manager Arsene Wenger needs to ensure Giroud remains a stand-alone addition to his squad, rather than a replacement.
In other words, Arsenal need another centre-forward to replace van Persie should he up sticks.
So what can Llorente provide to help his case as a top-level centre-forward in the Premier League?
First and foremost, Llorente is a strong, dynamic and prolific goalscorer.
With 29 goals in 53 appearances across all competitions for his club throughout the 2011-2012 season, the man they call Rey León (the Lion King) was ever-present for Los Leones in La Liga last season, playing a pivotal role in their successes in both the Europa League and the Copa del Rey (Bilbao were runners-up in both).
To demonstrate, his volley scored against Manchester United in last year's Europa League was nothing short of sumptuous, and bears more than a little resemblance to one of Arsenal's current captain's superb strikes this season.
Physically, Llorente has all the attributes required for success in the Premier League for Arsenal.
His 6'5" stature makes him an excellent aerial threat and a strong target man who can create opportunities for himself and his team-mates.
His right-footedness would create an excellent contrast from new signings Podolski and Giroud—creating a more traditional striking partnership than Arsenal would have seen from an all-left-footed trio of the aforementioned and Van Persie.
Despite physical similarities between Llorente and Giroud—both men stand over 6'3" tall—these two are subtly different beasts.
Besides Giroud being left-footed, his game is much more physical than Llorente's; the Spaniard is perhaps a better striker of the ball than the Frenchman.
Still, both can head with power and accuracy and both can become a defender's nightmare from set pieces. Should the two get a chance to work together, the results could be nothing short of sensational.
At 27 years old, Llorente is entering his prime as a traditional goalscoring centre-forward, and his recent experiences in continental competition reflect this.
While his current club cannot offer him Europa League football in next year's campaign, Arsenal are able to consistently provide him with the stage to headline Europe's premier club competition.
He certainly has the goalscoring record necessary to set the Champions League alight—all he needs now is the club.
Robin van Persie's days at Emirates Stadium seem certain to be over sooner rather than later. With the acquisition of Rey León, Wenger can still give his club pride, dignity and poise, lifting Arsenal well above the dreaded tag of a "selling club."
In the process, Arsenal Football Club will be in possession of one of the most fearsome goalscoring units in all the land.
Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and now Fernando Llorente.
If these three men are wearing Arsenal colours at the same time, this football club will have even the most stout of back fours reeling.
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