Friday, 10th August, 2012
Serie A champions Juventus have turned their attention towards Athletic Bilbao’s lanky forward Fernando Llorente in their search for a prolific striker, as alternatives to Arsenal striker Robin van Persie are sought by the Bianconeri.
According to Spanish daily AS, Juventus sent a delegation to watch Llorente in action during Athletic Bilbao’s Europa League clash with Slaven Belupo last night, a game the Spaniards lost 2-1.
Checking up on the forward’s form and fitness, with the Basque club’s president Josu Urrutia seated close by, has led to talk that a bid for the Spaniard is imminent.
Juventus had been keen to sign Van Persie from Arsenal after the Dutchman refused to extend a contract due to run out in 2013. However, the Gunners are demanding top dollar for the striker and Juventus have widened their search.
Llorente is another player with a delicate contract situation, having not yet penned a four-year extension put on the table by Athletic Bilbao; his present deal at the San Mames expires in 2014.
Should Juventus manage to close a deal for Llorente then they would almost certainly be out of the race for Van Persie.
It remains to be seen however whether the Italian champions can come to terms with Athletic Bilbao, especially given that the 27-year-old remains a key man for the Basque giants.
Llorente helped Athletic Bilbao to reach the final of the Copa del Rey and Europa League last season. He also struck 17 goals in 32 La Liga games, further underlining his importance to the club.
Get the new season off to a flying start: Sign up to Inside Futbol’s Fantasy League – £10k is awaiting the winner! >> Find out more