Arsenal's No. 1 Transfer Target in January Should Be Fernando Llorente
There is a peculiar trend that often recurs when a prominent club signs a very good but not unequivocally world-class player: He arrives, to much fanfare and anticipation, and is promptly benched.
It's odd. One would think that if a club spends much of its time scouting a certain player and negotiating for his transfer before parting with a significant monetary sum to sign him, there would actually be some interest in playing him.
However, this has become a pattern amongst world football's elite. Often clubs in a slightly lower echelon than those that typically exile new signings are happy to profit from the latter's neglect.
Arsenal are in a perfect position to do just this to improve one of the only weak areas of the squad by bringing in a player who offers plenty of short-term reward with almost no risk.
Before any serious discussion of this move could occur, Arsenal would have to be competing for the Premier League title. Otherwise, bringing in a player as good as Llorente to cement a position that is already occupied by an excellent player is both foolish and impossible.
At the moment, though, the Gunners appear to meet this qualification. If they continue to dominate their opponents for the next couple of months, Wenger will probably look into shoring his team up for the final push.
There are few areas of the team for which a case for improvement and additional depth could be made.
The midfield is absolutely stacked with world-class talent, and several traditional wingers compete with dynamic midfielders for spots on the wings.
One could even argue that the striker problem, to which almost every Arsenal transfer story last summer was related, has been solved.
Olivier Giroud is in scintillating form, so spending valuable cash to acquire another premier option rings of Manchester City-esque profligacy.
Behind the Frenchman sits a seemingly reinvigorated Nicklas Bendtner, who has something to prove in what is almost certainly his final year with Arsenal.
Other than that, there isn't much else, bar good old Yaya Sanogo.
Consider that Bendtner will not be around for much longer and Arsenal are one kick away from losing their attacking linchpin, and the situation becomes a bit more immediate.
Enter Llorente. His minutes have been very truncated in just five games for Juventus since transferring from Athletic Bilbao last summer.
With the World Cup on the horizon, he will need to use every match to persuade Vicente del Bosque to select him for the 23-man squad.
Perhaps Arsenal would not afford the sort of playing time that Llorente would desire, but if his current situation at Juve persists and no one else of Arsenal's calibre inquires about him, he will have little choice.
Llorente could slot into the Gunners' team rather smoothly. Like Giroud, he is a physical force who possesses the rare ability to marry brawn with the finer skills usually found in smaller strikers.
Should Arsenal try to buy a striker in January?
Like Giroud, Llorente could provide an intimidating presence in the box and serve as a target for late-game crosses if tossed on as a substitute. Arsenal have almost no players who pose intimidating aerial threats.
Best of all, Arsene Wenger can make a short-term move that will not saddle him with any long-term commitment.
Depending on Juventus' inclination and position in Serie A at the time, they might be willing to let Llorente go on loan until the end of the season.
Such an arrangement would be ideal for both parties—it would allow Arsenal to fill a need without actually buying a player and Juventus would retain control of a valuable asset.
Perhaps if Arsenal are a little greedy, a provision allowing for Arsenal's purchase of Llorente at the end of the season could be inserted into the loan agreement.
Regardless, the Gunners would receive a well-rounded and experienced striker who could lessen Olivier Giroud's burden during the most important time of the season.
Or he could simply add more firepower to a side that looks as if it is going to have to win the title by outgunning its opponents.
Either way, Arsenal would forsake a colossal opportunity by neglecting Fernando Llorente in January.
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