Fernando Llorente has been on the top of his game for the last two and a half seasons and it has not gone unnoticed – he’s become a Spanish international and is known to be the spearhead of Athletic’s effective hoofball tactics which have gotten them into contention for European qualification for next season. At 25 years of age Llorente has his best years ahead of him, he;’s a powerful physical presence at 6’4″ and he displays a lot of passion for the game. So why won’t any big teams try to sign Athletic’s biggest (pun intended) threat?
Normally a Spanish international striker who is yet to be picked up at a big club will be under intense speculation over whether he’ll move to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia, it occured with David Villa and Fernando Torres, Daniel Guiza was linked with several clubs before he moved to Fenerbahce and there’s always suitors for any other strikers who make it. Yet Llorente remains largely ignored by the bigger clubs. Athletic’s fierce indication that they don’t want to sell shouldn’t be enough to keep the interest in Llorente away and an effective forward like him should be top of the list of plenty of big teams.
Llorente uses his physique to make his game what it is – he’s a battering ram up front; like Didier Drogba but with a lot less skill and ball control. Llorente’s main task is to win the ball in the air and keep defenders off him whilst also creating close range chances for himself and his on-rushing team-mates. He does it well, he’s part of an effective attacking system and even Vicente Del Bosque acknowledges him. So why won’t bigger teams? He’d be well suited to a different physical league like the Premiership where he’d prove a powerful figure up front. Llorente would be a fine option for a club like Liverpool or Arsenal who could do with more strength up front but his name is never even mentioned.
Obviously this lack of interest aids Athletic as they’re keeping hold of one of their most valuable assets and look able to keep hold of him for the foreseeable future. It would be interesting to see how Athletic would cope without Llorente as their whole system depends on him. Gaizka Toquero leading the line would be a very different prospect and one that Athletic fans would probably not be too keen on, regardless of how much passion and determination Toquero plays with. It is unclear if a big team will actually look up and notice that Llorente is proving an effective goalscorer in one of the world’s toughest leagues and start attempting to sign him or whether he’ll continue to slip under the radar but I’m pretty sure that Llorente could prove a fine signing for a top side from ay of Europe’s big leagues. Give him the chance to work alongside better players and he can only do better, he deserves a chance.