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What does the future hold for Fernando Llorente?
Athletic Bilbao’s powerful centre forward, Fernando Llorente, has long been a subject of transfer speculation. His stock has steadily risen over the past few years with performances that have reportedly turned the heads of most of the top clubs in Europe. And with a contract that only has 6 months left to run, he has no shortage of potential suitors vying for his signature.
The Bilbao number 9 has caught the attention of these clubs with a whole host of excellent performances against high profile opposition and none less than the two leg demolition by Athletic over Manchester United in the Europa League stage of 16, in which Llorente himself scored two.
Before the start of the current season, Llorente, 27, was seen by most as in the best form of his career, but with his announcement that he would be leaving the basque club at the conclusion of his current contract, he has fallen out of favour with current manager Marcelo Bielsa and many of the clubs fans.
The Spanish international is best known for his powerful offensive play and despite his full 6ft 5″ frame, is still considered to posses considerable technique with the ball at his feet. This talent led to him to becoming the clubs top scorer in all competitions in the 2011/12 season netting 29 goals.
TheBilbaoman is a defenders worst nightmare and this has gained him an affectionate nickname with the clubs fans who now know him as ‘El Ray Leon’ translating literally into English as ‘the Lion’.
There has always been much love and admiration for this player by his fans, as he has come through the youth ranks and flourished since being given his chance in the first team in 2005, but at this current time all is not well in the Lions den.
Despite making 13 appearances in all competitions so far this season, most of those have been from the bench with Bielsa opting to start Fernando Llorente’s in form Spanish counterpart Aritz Aduriz whom he signed fromValenciain the summer for just €2.5 million. Llorente has managed just 2 goals in the current campaign.
Foreign clubs are now able to sign Fernando Llorente on a pre contract agreement with the move taking place in the summer and it looks as though Juventus are the club battling hardest for his services as they look to bolster an attack which has been missing a spark recently, and without the hero figure of Del Piero, there is a void in which The Lion could fill.
The move to Juventus is by no means a done deal and between now and the summer there will no doubt be many more clubs enquiring about his services, one thing is for sure, whoever manages to persuade the strong centre forward to join them will be gaining an excellent footballer.
By Richard Banks