Manchester United are reportedly willing to wait another 12-months to land a striker that they’ve been chasing this summer. With Fernando Llorente’s contract at Athletic Bilbao coming to an end next year, United are sure to favour a free transfer, rather than splashing out on this summer’s targets.
Manchester United haven’t made a secret of their desire to bolster their attacking options; Robin van Persie seemed to be at the top of United’s shopping list for much of the summer. The reservations over the Arsenal striker are right, though. A 29-year old with only one full year under belt is hardly worth pursuing. The Dutch striker has of course been one of the best forwards in the Premier League over the past 18-months, but the fee Arsenal are looking for does stretch beyond United’s comfort zone.
Fernando Llorente, on the other, does seem a much more favourable target, even at the reported 30 million euros his club are looking for. Llorente, while not a regular in the Spain starting XI, has been much more consistent in recent years than van Persie. His age, being two-years younger than the Dutchman, also ticks him off as the more attractive option.
But is Llorente the type of player United should be shopping for? Van Persie has shown he’s capable of playing the lone striker role very well, but Llorente excels in that position. The Spaniard is built like a traditional target man, which would give United a great deal of diversity in their attack.
But it’s Llorente’s own dynamics which really stand out. He’s a powerful striker who is comfortable with aerial attacks, however, his technique and ability with the ball on the ground is outstanding.
One-touch link-up play is not beyond the realms of what Llorente is capable of, and with Shinji Kagawa in the United side, the former-Dortmund player would be able to create a similar partnership he had with Robert Lewandowski.
United’s interest in van Persie seems hollow at best. The Arsenal striker wants assurances over a long-term and high-paying deal, where as United would only be gambling on a striker whose fitness will remain a concern.
The pursuit of Llorente, therefore, is a no-brainer. He’s an established striker on the continent, and not someone whose high interest is just down to potential—he’s very much a Premier League-ready forward.
Marcelo Bielsa has shown that there is much more to the 6’5 forward than just being a good target via long balls. Combined with the lack of a transfer fee needed to secure him, Llorente is the ideal target for United at this time.
He’s unlikely to show much difficulty in establishing himself in the Premier League; his frame and strength will greatly add to a likely quick settling in period. And what about his genuine availability? Reports suggest that Llorente is considering a move away from San Mames, and a move to a much higher-profile club is sure to open a few eyes in the national team setup. He was comfortably the best and most in-form striker for Spain at the Euros, yet he was continually overlooked. However, that shouldn’t and certainly won’t deter clubs from following up on their initial interest.
At the moment, Llorente is on the border of “very good” and “one of the best.” Manchester United would be landing an outstanding talent for a phenomenal bargain if they are successful in their chase.