Why Losing Fernando Llorente Wouldn't Devastate Juventus
The former Athletic Club striker signed for the Bianconeri on a free transfer this summer, so outside of his wages, Juve did not invest a huge amount in the player.
Therefore, it could be considered, Llorente was a free spin, risk-free and win-win type of signing.
The 28-year-old has added competition to what many would consider a weak area of the side last season and also tactically provides a different dimension for Antonio Conte.
Should the move not work out, there will be no shortage of takers for a striker who scored 29 goals in all competitions two seasons ago.
AS Cover: "Madrid wanted to sign me two times." -Junevtus' Llorente pic.twitter.com/BRX5imKqoz— SB (@Realmadridplace) October 22, 2013
Any transfer fee received by Juve would more than cover any wages, signing-on fees or other expenses spent on the player, meaning there will be little regret should Llorente continue to struggle in Italy.
Even if rumours are to be believed that Llorente could be allowed to temporarily leave the Old Lady on loan in January, with the Mirror reporting that Arsenal would be interested in such a move, Juve would still be able to command a substantial fee in a year's time.
Tactically it was initially thought that the Spain international would be able to add an aerial threat and hold the ball up for a plethora of top-class midfielders to join the attack.
Llorente to Arsenal would be a great move for both parties. He is wasted under Conte at #Juve— Stephen Martin (@Martin__Stephen) October 23, 2013
In reality, though, the move has yet to work, in part due to the player's rustiness from effectively taking the season off last season in the Basque country.
Los Leones are notorious for having a stubborn policy regarding the sale of their players, which commands the buy-out clause in the player's contract, or the deal is unworkable.
Manchester United encountered a similar problem this summer when interested in midfielder Ander Herrera, and despite numerous offers for Llorente just six months before his contract expired and their asset being able walk away for free, the Bilbao club stuck by their principles.
So with Llorente refusing to sign a new contract, manager Marcelo Bielsa decided to freeze Llorente out of the first team, which has severely hurt his form and impeded his ability to hit the ground running at Juve.
Llorente should be close to returning to his peak condition with three starts in the last six games, as well as two further substitute appearances, not to mention his first full game at the weekend.
But while it is premature to completely judge whether he will be a success in black and white, there are worrying signs that the Spaniard is not compatible with Conte's system.
In the 3-5-2, Llorente appears to slow down the play by requiring several touches of the ball before releasing it into space to a teammate.
By partnering Carlos Tevez, the Argentine is forced to drop a little deeper, which is a role he is entirely capable of performing, but one that El Apache is less effective in nonetheless.
Mirko Vucinic is still probably Conte's preferable choice to partner Carlitos, so once the Montenegrin returns from injury, Llorente could return to a bench role.
Even more interestingly, there were recent comments falsely attributed to Tevez that condemned Llorente as a player, and the Argentine was forced to reveal on Twitter, according to ESPN, that he had never said such things.
Instinct is usually a good judgement of whether a player can or eventually will work in a system, and with Llorente it just feels like Juve will be better off selling now, while they still have a chance to make a profit on the deal.
Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal are all highly versatile midfielders, but they are most effective when moving the ball on the deck with triangles in and around the penalty area.
Vucinic is technically superb in this regard, which is in stark contrast to Llorente's capability of controlling and then releasing the ball quickly.
Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco—as well as Quagliarella to an extent—have a better footballing brain too, all of whom can see the play unfolding in front of them, whereas Llorente tends to prefer beating the opposition with physical encounters.
So even though Llorente has barely had an opportunity to settle down in Turin, his time might be up soon with Juve, but fortunately for the Bianconeri, that would not be a disaster whatsoever.
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