Just yesterday one of Athletic Bilbao’s former players Francisco Yeste put his two cents into the the current situation surrounding their star player and contract rebel Fernando Llorente. Last season Bilbao were in the fight for a Champions League spot until the final month of the campaign and surged to the Europa League final dispatching of Manchester United in some style along the way.
This season the Basque side have only managed to take 11 points from 10 fixtures and have also struggled in the Europa League. While some of this will be due to Javi Martinez’s big-money departure to Bayern Munich the situation of star striker and Spanish international Fernando Llorente will surely not have helped. His contract expires in the summer and after a loyal 16 years of service to his boyhood club ‘The Lion King’ now wants to move on and play Champions League football.
The poor start to the season was attributed to this current situation by Yeste with the 32-year-old free agent stating:
"Right now I'm not in the Athletic locker room so I do not know what is being experienced, the way the year has started, the case of Llorente has unbalanced the atmosphere a bit."
Chilean boss Marcelo Bielsa has not taken sympathetically to Llorente’s position and now refuses to play him and has the Spanish international training with the youth team as punishment for his continued open courting of suitors.
If you believe the press and in some cases officials from the clubs who have made their green eyed envy very clear there are several teams leading the chase for the 27-year-old including Premier League sides Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. Then there is the interest from Italian side Juventus who desperately need a goalscoring striker to complete their jigsaw.
In the summer the prices being quoted by Bilbao were high, too high for a team to gamble on considering they can acquire him on a free transfer in the summer. Now with all hope lost on Llorente staying in Northern Spain Italian pink paper Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that the price has dropped to a measly £5million!
For this striker that is nothing short of a bargain. Some English fans have a confused outlook on the talents of Llorente, believing his height and physical strength make him an ordinary target man however nothing can be further from the truth. He is more than adept on the ground with a poise and technique that is compulsory in the Cantera of Bilbao. Coupled with the physical attributes he would make an absolutely incredible addition to any one of these Premier League clubs; it seems Juventus are the front-runners but at £5million English clubs simply must pursue this potential signature.
What do you make of the new £5million price-tag on Llorente?
image: © Jack Tanner