Juventus Transfers: Why Fernando Llorente Would Be a Great Signing
One of Europe's most in-demand strikers might have his future resolved very soon after it emerged that Juventus have begun talks with Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente, with a view to taking the Spaniard on a free transfer in the summer.
Llorente has been used very sparingly this season by his team after refusing to commit to a new contract, and having stated he would leave on a Bosman deal at the end of the season, the Telegraph is reporting that Juve have now made serious steps to take him to Italy.
Juventus are flying high at the top of the Italian league, eight points clear of their nearest rivals, and the addition of Llorente for next season is a fearsome prospect in an already talented side.
Here is why Llorente will be such a great signing for Juventus.
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Though he has only scored one single league goal this season, Llorente's lack of game time has contributed significantly to the massive drop from his usual levels.
He has been started just once in La Liga this term after telling his club he would not sign a new deal with them, making a further nine substitute appearances.
Prior to this season though Llorente proved his aptitude in front of goal time and time again.
Just last season he hit 29 goals in all competitions as he helped Bilbao to two cup finals, as well as 17 goals in the league. 2010-11 saw him net 18 in the league and a further five in cup competitions.
Llorente has reached double figures for league goals in every season since 2007-08 and stands only half a dozen goals away from reaching the top 10 scorers of all time for Athletic Bilbao.
The Spanish striker will certainly bring goals to Juventus, and despite them being top of the league they don't have a recognised goal-getter, at least this season—Fabio Quagliarella is their top scorer with six.
Ability to Make Space in the Box
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One of Llorente's most impressive attributes is his knack of finding space inside and around the penalty area.
He's by no means lightning-quick but is extremely good at positioning his body between defenders to receive and control the ball into space, while a proficiency with both feet also helps.
Llorente is a very adept forward at bringing others into play too; he is not so single-minded that he shoots every time the ball arrives at his feet, but he does make scoring a priority. His ability to find pockets of space in even the most crowded box—and react quickly with the ball—ensures he rarely passes up the chance to test the goalkeeper.
Provides Juve with a Different Type of Striker
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Juventus currently have four very talented forwards in their first team, but Fernando Llorente will provide the team with a different kind of focal point for their attack.
His strength, hold-up play and directness as well as his high strike rate will provide a change of direction for the Juve attack.
B/R's tactical analyst Sam Tighe gives an insight into how Llorente will differ from his team mates and who he might play particularly well alongside:
They've got two channel runners in Sebastian Giovinco and Quagliarella, then a nine and a half in Mirko Vucinic. Matri is more of a penalty-area predator, not involved much in the build-up play.
The one thing they're missing is a Llorente, and he's surprisingly agile on the move. The chest is becoming one of the most important parts of the body to play football with and he's the master at it.
Giovinco and Quagliarella are masters at working the channels and aiding the link up; they play two up front and you can see him forming a nice partnership with either. I dont think Llorente and Vucinic will combine as well though.
It is entirely possible that at least one of the Juve forwards might have to make way for Llorente's arrival—Matri or Vucinic are the likely early contenders.
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No information has been released as to the supposed wages that Llorente will be earning at Juventus, but as a free transfer signing it's almost a no-brainer, as long as the contract he is handed is not a ridiculously long one.
Llorente will be 28 years old when he presumably joins in the summer, so a three-year contract should see Juve get the prime years of his career.
The Bilbao forward would easily have cost upward of £20 million last summer if his contract had had longer to run so even if he fails to adapt to the Italian game or lifestyle, the Turin club will turn a handsome profit in selling him after 12 or 24 months.
Juventus have a top-class player coming to them on a free transfer. If he's average, they'll at the very least make their money back.
If he performs to the best of his ability—and perhaps even increases his best level with playing alongside better teammates—then Juve might have signed someone who can propel them back toward European glory.
Statistics from WhoScored.com and TransferMarkt.co.uk