Gazzeta Dello Sport in Italy have reported that Manchester United have made contact with free agent Fernando Llorente over a move to Old Trafford. The deal would see the 34-year-old striker pen a two year deal with the red devils. But would Llorente be a welcomed addition to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side?
The Spanish veteran has enjoyed a trophy laden career. Llorente began his career at Athletic club Bilbao in spain where he played alongside ex Manchester United player Ander Herrera. The Basque born striker made 327 appearances for Bilbao and set up 36 for teammates, his performances while donning the red and white jersey meant that he was chosen as part of the golden age Spanish side that won the World Cup in 2010 and 2 years later he picked a European Championship winners medal, alongside players like Xavi, Iniesta and our very own Juan Mata.
Following his international exploits, consistent performances for Bilbao raised eyebrows in Turin. Antonio Conte was keen to include the then 28-year-old in his title hunting Juventus. A successful ‘tre di fila’ or ‘three titles in a row’ proved to be the most successful period in Llorente’s career in terms of trophies. The ex-Spanish international helped lead Juventus to their 30th league title, scoring 16 league goals and assisting 5 in 34 appearances in his first year at the club.
After picking up 3 league titles, an Italian cup and one Italian Super Cup, Llorente spent a season in Spain where he won a Europa League playing for Sevilla under Unai Emery. English football and the Premier League came calling, as a result, with Swansea on the cards. A year being one of the shining lights in a struggling Swansea side as he scored 15 in 35 resulted in a situation where when Pochettino needed a back up for Harry Kane, Llorente seemed like a more than viable option. Playing second fiddle to a world class striker like Kane is always going to mean minutes are few and far between but I’m sure Tottenham Hotspur fans would agree that moments like ‘that night at the Etihad’ wouldnt have been possible him.
Why Should Manchester United Sign Fernando Llorente?
Fernando Llorente is now a free agent after his two year deal at Tottenham has come to an end which means Manchester United can offer him a deal and sign him despite the English transfer window being shut. While the European window is still open until the 2nd of September, rumours of Alexis Sanchez’ departure have gained credibility and a transfer away from Manchester seems likely. Manchester United will need to bolster options in attack.
If Sanchez leaves the club, Manchester United’s attacking options consist of; Marcus Rashford(21) Anthony Martial(23) Daniel James(21) Mason Greenwood(17) and Tahith Chong(19). With an average age of 20 years old, it is clear that our attack lacks experience as well as depth, experience that Llorente has in abundance.
Tactically, Llorente’s physique means that he is a different option to the technical strike force in the United squad. Pochettino pulled of a masterclass in Amsterdam in last seasons’ Champions League semifinal as he brought on Llorente to use his physicality, bully a young Ajax defence and play more direct, a tactical change that led to Lucas Moura’s tie winning goal. A criticism that can be thrown at Manchester United as of now is our one dimensional way of playing where a forward two of Martial and Rashford is continuously deployed. With Llorente possibly coming in Manchester United will add a further dimension to their play.
However, with Ole re inventing the wheel at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s play consists of fast attacks on the break, quick movements of the ball from defence to attack. Fernando Llorente’s lack of pace would mean this couldn’t be achieved and would perhaps be reminscent of Marouane Fellaini’s time at Manchester United. But for me there is no doubt as an option in the latter stages of games, Llorente would be a welcomed addition to the squad.