Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal recently confirmed to the press that the club were in the market for another centre-forward.
The Dutchman simultaneously advised “it’s not the striker that the media has written”, with FC Bayern Munchen’s Thomas Muller the wrongly-anointed target.
Instead the Mirror’s David McConnell has revealed the man in question is Juventus striker Fernando Llorente.
Seemingly some way down the Juventus pecking order after the Bianconeri’s acquisition of Mario Mandzukic, Simone Zaza and Pablo Dybala this summer, Llorente is 6/4 to join United by the end of the transfer window.
So, what kind of striker are the Red Devils supposedly looking to draft into their attacking ranks to replace Robin van Persie?
The Spaniard’s most noticeable trait is also his most oft-trumpeted characteristic, 6’5” of height, which might lead to him being type-cast as an old fashioned number nine.
Such stereotyping wouldn’t be that far off the mark in the case of the 30-year-old, about whom Gerard Pique had the following to say during the latter’s Athletic Bilbao days:
“I really suffer when I play against him. He’s strong, he uses his body well, he’s quick, he pushes you about. He’s a great striker.”
United fans will remember just how difficult Llorente is to play against from the home and away goals he notched against them for Athletic in the Europa League in 2011/12.
His chief gifts are those of the stereotypical centre-forward, indomitable strength, expert timing, positioning and anticipation, as well as reliable finishing.
Having thrived under high-pressing zealot Marcelo Bielsa, for whom he scored his career-best season total of 29 in 2011/12, he is clearly not averse to working hard for his teammates and his presence in the penalty area will certainly create chances.
Llorente’s two seasons at Juve have been characterised as frustrating, but he still helped himself to 16 league goals in 2013/14, the fifth campaign in seven in which he has found the net 14 times or more during his domestic bread and butter alone.