Fernando Llorente is a name that has been linked quite heavily to the Gunners since the tail-end of last summer’s transfer window, but is he actually a realistic target for January?
The Spaniard’s contract with current club Athletic Bilbao is due to expire next year, meaning he will be available either for a cut-price fee in January believed to be around the £15m mark or free next summer. It seems the striker has decided not to renew terms with his current employers after spending 7 years with the senior side, so Bilbao will have no choice but to sell their star asset.
The hitman has been a consistent presence in La Liga over the past few seasons and since 2008/09 he has banged in 14,14,18 and 17 goals in consecutive seasons. However this campaign has been a bit different. The Spanish international has just managed one appearance in La Liga, bagging one goal, but the lack of game time is Bilbao’s hardball stance toward the wantaway striker.
The 27-year-old is top of many Gooner’s wishlists especially with Wenger priced out of any deal involving Falcao. The Frenchman reportedly has funds somewhere in the region of £35m to spend on transfers and he has admitted he may have to find himself another striker to compliment and compete with Olivier Giroud. Llorente seems like an obvious choice with a decent record and as he will be available for a super cheap Wenger-friendly price, he is a realistic transfer target for Arsenal.
Personally I’d be very happy with the acquisition of the striker if anything eventuates from the rumours, as he is a top class forward that is part of the stacked Spanish national side (however recently he has been dropped due to the lack of playing time for Bilbao) and can be purchased cheaply.
It would be brilliant if he could be brought in over the January window as he can then have time to adapt to English life, play a part in the season run-in and the have a full preseason (no Euros’ or World Cups next summer). The main stumbling blocks that I can see preventing the move from eventuating would be Wenger’s persistence to get the player for free next summer rather than this winter for a fee, similarly to the Chamakh situation. However as Llorente is a far higher profile player he will have more clubs chasing him and Wenger may not have a choice but to whip out the cheque book in January!
What are your thoughts on Llorente? Think he would be the perfect addition to knock in the goals supplied by his international team-mate Cazorla? Feel free to comment below or in allArsenal’s forum under the Spaniard’s thread.