On the 8th of March 2012 a plucky team from Spain did the unthinkable and beat Manchester United on their own ground and did so with style and panache. That evening Atheltic Bilbao stole the hearts of football loving purists across the land.
The following week at the San Mames, a sold out stadium watched a team made up of purely home grown talent teach one of the biggest teams in the world a lesson in how to play football. The game finished 2-1 to Bilbao and 5-3 on aggregate. Every player that played in the red and white was looked at with awe but one in particular announced his arrival as a top class striker on the 23rd minute with a Van Persie-esque volley just inside the area. His name is Fernando Llorente.
With a goal every 132 minutes in La Liga last season it is no wonder that throughout the summer his name was linked to a host of clubs across Europe. First it looked like he was destined for Juventus who wanted to give there fans a high profile, goal scoring new signing.
Although personal terms were agreed the fee was not and in the end the Old Lady of Italian football opted for Nicklas Bendtner on loan. Now after rejecting two contract extensions from Bilbao and only 12 months left on his contract, Llorente is destined to move on from the Basque country but where to?
According to the Mirror Manchester City, Chelsea, Juventus, AC Milan, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool are all interested. In fairness the player that most of the Spanish population believed should have played more during the Euro’s, despite there rampant success, could move to any of the aforementioned clubs and do well there.
Juventus will certainly be looking to bring in the striker as there current striker force aren’t taller than 6 foot, I’m discounting Bendtner because he is not a proven goal scorer and therefore not going to be ahead of Llorente in the pecking order. Chelsea certainly need another striker as Torres behaved like a spoilt brat against QPR and his only back up is Daniel Sturridge, another spoilt brat. Then there is Manchester City who, I imagine, would only move for the striker if Dzeko was sold as Mancini sees Llorente as an upgrade on the Serbian goal scorer.
If they could get the money together Liverpool would love to go for Llorente. He’s the kind of striker that would love to play the brand of football Rodgers plays and would link up well with Borini and Suarez, both of which seem to be better at creating than scoring. Of course if they can only get together £3million for Clint Dempsey then I doubt they will be able to match the financial might of Chelsea and City.
Due to Chelsea’s desperation for a striker and the fact that Bilbao manager Bielsa will be as stubborn as a mule in order for the bidding war to commence for Llorente, the big bucks of Chelsea seem most likely. However, Llorente is a wanted man and could genuinely end up anywhere as January is a long way a way in terms of the various European season’s that are currently unfolding.
I hope he comes to the Premier League as he is part of a class of wonderful Basque players that are destined for great things.