Will Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente prove to be more than just a back-up for Harry Kane?
It turned out to be one of the shocks of the summer transfer window, but Tottenham managed to lure Swansea City’s Fernando Llorente to north London and out of the grasps of arch-rivals Chelsea.
On the face of it, signing a 32-year-old striker for £12 million may seem like a bit of a gamble – especially considering Tottenham’s title ambitions – but it may turn out to be a shrewd addition.
Considering the ineffectiveness of fellow striker Vincent Janssen during his debut season in the Premier League, Llorente is arguably the impact player that boss Mauricio Pochettino has desired.
But could the Spanish striker turn out to be more than just a back-up? The Boot Room takes a look.
Impact in the final third
Everybody knows that Harry Kane has been the Premier League’s best forward for the past two seasons, winning consecutive Golden Boot awards and scoring 29 goals in 30 appearances last year.
But Fernando Llorente had an equally impressive campaign in Wales, finding the net 15 times in 33 top-flight matches and scoring the goals that eventually helped the Swans avoid relegation.
The thing with Llorente is you know exactly what you’ll get from him, being an imposing physical threat in the area and looking to get his head on anything and everything to try and steal a goal for his side, and every single one of his 15 efforts from last season came from poaching inside the 18-yard-box.
Add to this the fact that he scored seven headed goals – five more than Kane – and it’s clear to see that he can make things happen as long as there is a consistently good supply of balls pumped into the area.
This is proven further after the Spaniard scored more goals than Kane from corners (three to two) last season as well as free-kicks (three to two), and he’s a known dangerous asset from set-pieces.
Service and creativity
Delving into the statistics surrounding play on the edge of the area is where it really starts to become interesting, with Kane being far more pro-active at creating opportunities than Llorente.
The England striker made 34 key passes last season in comparison to the Spaniard’s 23, earning seven assists to one, and he had a higher pass completion rate of 72% in opposition territory which just goes to show how he likes to drop deep and influence the play from outside of the 18-yard box.
Kane also attempted twice as many shots (110) than Llorente (49) from three less matches played last year, further trying an incredible 42 from outside the area compared to Llorente’s tally of one.
With this in mind, is there a way Pochettino could use Kane slightly behind Llorente in his side?
It’s an extremely tough ask considering the wealth of attacking midfield options that Tottenham possess in their ranks, and considering how successful their formation has proven since 2015-16.
But with Kane far more effective on the edge of the area, and Llorente extremely proficient when holding the ball up inside the area, the duo could complement each other’s style of play very well.
Yet whilst Llorente’s statistics may be impressive it’s still almost impossible to determine a system that would see the 32-year-old fit into Tottenham starting eleven this season if Harry Kane is fully fit.
There’s no way that the England international will be dropped – and neither will Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli – and it’s just as implausible that Pochettino will change his formation to two forwards.
Which means that, despite his impressive season with Swansea last time out, Llorente will be used primarily as Tottenham’s ‘Plan B’ when they need goals – but it’s certainly not a bad ‘Plan B’ to have.
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