With it looking increasingly likely that last season’s top scorer Andre Ayew will depart, most likely to the Olympic Stadium, a replacement is needed. The latest man to be listed as a possible replacement is Sevilla’s Fernando Llorente according to many sources. The IB Times even go as far as to say that the Spaniard has already agreed a two-year deal and will undergo a medical on Friday.
Having lost Eder, Alberto Paloschi and Bafetembi Gomis, a number nine style striker was the Swans’ top priority this summer, before Ayew was even linked with a move away, and they will be delighted if they can secure a move for the Sevilla striker, who was their number one target with the deal only stalled for so long due to the player’s wage demands.
Having been at Juventus just two years ago, Llorente has suffered from little game time and poor form in recent years. A hero at the club he supported as a boy, Athletic Bilbao, he became known as a strong and prolific forward for the club, as his style went completely against the Spanish striker stereotype. His form for Athletic saw Juventus interested, who snapped him up on a free Bosman transfer in 2013 after notching 111 goals in 327 goals in Bilbao.
In Italy he maintained a rate of around a goal every three games, with 27 goals in 92 games, but struggled towards he was ditched by Juve who released him to allow him to join Sevilla. There, he scored 7 goals in 36 games last season, though he struggled for starts towards the end of the campaign which cast doubts over his future.
For Llorente, at 31 years old he has had few options, and was largely expected to leave Andalucia this summer with no guarantee of first team football, having completed 90 minutes just twice last season. After being a World Cup winner in 2010, it is some fall for the combative forward, but the Swans give him a chance to reignite his career. Strong in the air and keen to defend from the front, Llorente is physical and should adapt well to the Premier League.
The number nine also averages an assist in one of every nine games, bringing other players into the game with his aerial strength, and particularly effective when he plays alongside a pacey forward who can make runs in behind him. As such, Llorente would not be a replacement for Ayew, but rather the perfect foil for the Ghanian should he end up remaining at the Liberty.
The first and most important task for the forward with 24 caps will be to regain match fitness. That he only completed 90 minutes twice in a season where Sevilla rotated heavily to manage the squad as they reached the Europa League and Copa Del Rey finals in May speaks volumes, and if he is to be a threat for Swansea, Llorente will have to be fit enough to play frequently.
If he can revive his career at the Liberty Stadium, Llorente has shown the qualities to be able to adapt to the Premier League and could be used to devastating effects. The biggest concern for Swansea once his signature is secured will be to ensure that he has the perfect partner, whether that means retaining Andre Ayew or replacing him. What’s clear is that Fernando Llorente is certainly not an Ayew replacement.
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