The Gunners top transfer target Fernando Llorente has again stated he will not sign a new deal with Athletico Bilbao, and will leave for free in the summer.
The 27-year-old’s deal is set to expire on June 30th 2013, and despite the best efforts by the Spanish club to renew terms with their striker, Llorente has his heart set on a move away to ‘develop as a player and try something new’ – not for financial reasons.
Since refusing a new contract, the Spanish international has become something of an outcast, starting only one league fixture this season, consequently narrowing his chances of a call up to the national team.
Despite a section of the Bilbao faithful marking him as a traitor, he still feels loved by the rest of the fans and feels he will see out the remainder of his contract without mentioning word of a winter move, he told the Telegraph:
I am going to leave on June 30. I want to develop as a player and try something new. It isn’t about money because the offer the club made was irresistible, The media have not helped with the negotiations and it is one of the things that has generated the bad atmosphere around me out on the pitch. This has encouraged me not to renew my contract; this and many other things. I took the decision when I went out for the first Europa League game at San Mames (in August). Most of what has come out in the press is lies and this has turned people against me. This has meant when I run out on to the pitch people whistle at me. There is a sector of the crowd who do not want me but I feel loved by the majority.
With Wenger realizing it is imperative to reinforce the attacking lineup in winter, Llorente seems an obvious option. He’s cheap, talented and has experience. Although Bilbao may seem like they want to keep the Spaniard until the end of the season, they are hardly relying on him and have been taking the hardball approach. The La Liga outfit will be keen to cash in on him in January and reinforce as necessary, otherwise they will get nothing from him come June 30th.
Another attacker heavily linked is the highly-rated Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha who has been tipped to make a January move to the Emirates after his meteoric rise to fame which has resulted in an international senior call-up for the younsger.
But the 20-year-old was not impressed with Arsenal’s latest loss, despite being a fan himself. Zaha tweeted shortly after Kostas Mitroglou put the Greeks 2-1 ahead after 73 minutes:
I swear I’m not watching arsenal anymore
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I am a arsenal supporter but they stress me out..
We know Zaha..We certainly feel the same way. If Arsene Wenger can’t turn the results around and soon then he will have a tough time signing top talent in January. Van Persie refused to sign a new deal because Arsenal failed to convince him they would challenge for trophies after an awful start to the season last year and then another dip in form in the New Year.
Another question also needs to be answered – is Zaha even worth pursuing seeming as how he could potentially be double the expense of Oxlade-Chamberlain? The newly capped England international has been tipped for the top, but he seems more of a long-term prospect rather than someone that can help transform our season around, Llorente is more in that bracket. Zaha should only be bought if Walcott refuses a new deal and is sold this January.
What are your thoughts on the two strikers? Feel free to comment below or in the allArsenal forums under Transfer Rumours.