It’s always dangerous to indulge in a transfer fantasy. Hope for the best, expect they worst, is what they say. But like a hopeless romantic building themselves up for a massive fall, there has been one name mentioned recently that has caught the imagination of supporters more than any other. If Tottenham signed Fernando Llorente, it would be represent a signal of intent like no other.
Now before the boo-boys attempt to bring this down like a lead balloon, this article is at a disclaimer to say this talk is purely hypothetical. Although the seeds of this transfer speculation aren’t quite akin to Torquay putting in a deadline day bid for Lionel Messi. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the big Spanish international could trade in Athletic Bilbao for the pastures new of White Hart Lane.
A flurry of ITK-driven gossip has driven Tottenham supporters to absolute frustration this summer, but this isn’t a reactive piece to the scribbling’s of some 14-year-old hiding behind a suit and briefcase avatar on Twitter. Several sources have suggested that a Llorente move to N17 could be on the cards and when Guillem Balague speaks, people in football listen.
The Sky Sports favourite announced on his Twitter page in recent days that not only were Tottenham Hotspur after Fernando Llorente, but that the Spanish star would be happy to make the switch to North London. The stumbling block? A potential €36million transfer fee. Balague is a journalist and consequently, nothing he says can be or ever should be taken as gospel.
Although as sources go, he is as reliable as you are ever going to get in football and you sometimes wonder that short of taking the likes of Florentino Perez and Sandro Rosell out for a slap up meal, how he managers to attain such reliable information. There is no smoke without fire and there is a feeing that the Llorente whispers have some legs.
Arguing about the credibility of the speculation is one thing, but let’s take a minute to consider the ramifications of a possible switch. For starters, the moody naysayers who have, in some respects quite rightly, had enough with Daniel Levy’s brinkmanship, would remain firmly silenced. Tottenham might have just signed Emmanuel Adebayor, but the acquisition of Llorente would blow supporters expectations out of the water. There’s been a lot of waiting for all parties this summer, but there can be doubt that signing the Bilbao man would have made all those hours clicking refresh on
But more than anything, this is a striker of serious pedigree. The man known as El Rey León (The Lion King in English), is almost the perfect fit for Villas-Boas’ new system and he comes ready made with no need for assembly.. At the age of 27, he’s about to hit the peak years of his career and there is no need to harness the worries about development and changing his game. You can never guarantee a foreign player will adapt to the Premier League, but if there was ever a potential banker, it has to be Llorente.
Tall, powerful and mobile, Llorente has the skillset to prosper amongst the fast and furious trappings of English football. Whilst their relationship may have soured recently, esteemed Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa has developed the 27-year-olds game. Whilst his power and physicality have always been his key traits, Bielsa rounded Llorente into a far more complete player able to play deeper and bring his teammates into play. His skillset and technique have never been in doubt but there is a feeling that the Pamplona born star has finally evolved into player everyone knew he could become.
English football fans have seen first hand just how deadly Llorente can be. He was a talismanic figure in the 5-3 aggregate victory that sent Manchester United crashing out of the Europa League last March and few will forget his scorching volley past David de Gea at the Estadio San Mamés, His two against Sir Alex Ferguson’s team contributed to a 29 goal haul in 53 appearances during the 2011-12 term. Don’t let the notion that he doesn’t play for a top Spanish team leave you in any doubt of his abilities. Llorente is a superb striker and he can fire Spurs to the next level.
It’s not hard to him succeeding in Villas-Boas’ side, either. Emmanuel Adebayor had a superb term last season although as well as the Togolese hitman did to strike 17 times in the league, he should have had more. It’s grossly unfair to negate too much of Spurs’ failure to kill off teams on his shoulders, but he still should have scored more. You can argue that it’s not the ones you miss, but the ones you put away, that count. Although thee is still capacity for improvement at White Hart Lane.
Llorente has all the traits that Villas-Boas could wish for as a figurehead in his 4-2-3-1 set-up. He can link up fluidly with the attacking trio behind and work seamlessly laying balls off to the channels and playing in the teammates. But as potent as his finish maybe, he also offers the trump card of being something of a Plan B himself. Spurs struggled for an alternate outlet last term. The focus is going to be on attacking football played on the deck at White Hart Lane this season, but if they wish to knock it up to the big man, they’re more than able to with Llorente.
The Spaniard isn’t quite an archetypal English number nine, but if needs must, then AVB would have the option. He won’t get bullied by the Stoke City’s of this world and he certainly isn’t going to fear going toe-to-toe with the touted hard men of English football. He’s 6ft 5 of Mediterranean footballer and certainly no shrinking violet either. If you thought the horror cliché ‘good touch for a big man’ was wheeled out enough with Crouch, then you’ve not seen anything yet. Technical excellence comes as standard when purchasing from La Liga and Fernando Llorente is no different.
Whether Spurs can realistically pull this off, however, is a different story. The notion of the player wanting to come to the Lane is outstanding but agreeing personal terms means diddly squat without negotiating a transfer fee. The strength of the Spanish economy would strengthen Tottenham’s hand but quite how much they can knock off a €36million transfer clause remains to be seen. Daniel Levy is a shrewd negotiator and the thought of splashing out those sort of figures on a 27-year-old isn’t particularly in the mould of the Spurs supremo’s usual spending patterns.
But the chance is there for Levy and Tottenham Hotspur. The club have been run astutely and events during this transfer window are a microcosm of such business acumen. The singing of Llorente, however, could be a potential gamechanger for the club. It wouldn’t just capture the imagination of the fans but it would send a real message of intent out to silence the doubters. Levy won’t care about what anyone else has to say. But he does care about success and Champions League qualification in particular. Signing Llorente could go a long way to securing both.
How do you rate the chances of Fernando Llorente going to Tottenham? Can you see him swapping the bars of Bilbao for the Chick King of the High Road? Let me know what you think on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and tell me what you think.