Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is reportedly pondering a move for highly rated Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, with the Spaniard’s contract situation being the key to whether or not the transfer can be completed over the summer.
The Gunners have already bolstered their attack with the signing of Germany international Lukas Podolski but skipper Robin van Persie appears to need more assurance regarding the club’s ambitions.
Signing Llorente can potentially serve as a sound contingency plan if RvP chooses to walk away from in the near future, or it can simply signal the club’s ambition to compete for silverware next season.
This unique contract situation can benefit both Bilbao and Arsenal, with the latter paying a reduced price to secure the services of a striker who will likely become a free agent next summer.
Despite these logistics favoring the likelihood of the deal to be completed, two factors suggest that negotiations may not reach advanced stages.
For starters, Llorente is likely to sign an extension with the club where he has made 236 appearances. Like most Athletic players, the giant striker is poised to favor a stay at the Basque outfit, which finished second in both the UEFA Europa League and the Spanish Copa Del Rey this season.
In addition, the Daily Mail is reporting that Arsenal are concurrently chasing Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud (a more realistic signing) as well as Llorente’s club teammate Javi Martinez, whose presence can tremendously benefit the Gunners midfield.
Rumors of Llorente’s possible move to Arsenal suddenly started gaining momentum earlier this week when El Mundo Deportivo journalist Javi Gomara took to Twitter with some unconfirmed news.
Gomara’s tweet, originally in Spanish, was translated to state: “They say that on Tuesday it will be announced that Fernando Llorente is going to Arsenal. It would be a huge loss.”
The transfer was never confirmed on Tuesday and instead, members of the Arsenal squad continued to focus on hoping that van Persie signs a long-term extension with the club.