Premier League

Llorente can revive Premier League career at West Ham

 • by Matt Gault
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Fernando Llorente never really stood a chance at Tottenham Hotspur.

The Spaniard, quite frankly, was too good for Swansea City – for whom he scored 15 goals in 35 appearances during a productive one-year stint in Wales – but not good enough to seriously challenge Harry Kane’s place in the Spurs line-up.

The 33-year-old, a three-time Serie A champion with Juventus, joined Mauricio Pochettino’s side on transfer deadline day 12 months ago, when Spurs sensationally hijacked Chelsea‘s bid to sign him.

Different clubs, same plan. Antonio Conte wanted to use Llorente as back-up for Álvaro Morata and given the former Real Madrid forward’s struggles during his first season in England, Llorente may regret how things panned out a year ago.

But a different deadline day brings with it new and exciting opportunities. Having managed just a single Premier League start in the 2017/18 season – which incidentally came against his former employers Swansea – Llorente is attracting interest from several clubs as part of the usual last-gasp mad-dash for signings.

Deadline day move II?

One of those clubs is West Ham United. The Hammers launched an all-out assault on the transfer market earlier this summer having replaced David Moyes with Manuel Pellegrini.

The Chilean has proceeded to oversee a significant overhaul of the squad, with seven players, headlined by £38million Felipe Anderson, arriving at the London Stadium.

Issa Diop, Andriy Yarmolenko, Lukasz Fabianski and Fabián Balbuena were also brought in, with Jack Wilshere and Ryan Fredericks arriving on frees.

The Hammers have also completed the £5million signing of Arsenal striker Lucas Pérez but, with Pellegrini reportedly concerned over Andy Carroll’s perennial struggle against his own body, the club may yet sign a second striker.

Carroll’s ongoing fitness issues leaves Javier Hernández as West Ham’s only out-and-out striker. Of course, Marko Arnautović spearheaded the attack brilliantly for much of last season, but Pellegrini may prefer to deploy the Austrian out wide if he can secure the services of a new striker.

That’s where Llorente comes in. The former Sevilla frontman is obviously more Carroll than Chicarito and, although you won’t find him busting a gut to run in behind back-lines like the Mexican, his skillset certainly remains attractive.

His contribution to Spurs’ third-place finish last season was small but he has proven that, when played regularly, he can be an effective point of attack.

During a much more fruitful 2016/17 season with the Swans, Llorente scored 15 goals and won an average of 5.76 aerial duels per 90.

That may not match Carroll’s mammoth average of 10.49 during the 2017/18 season but Llorente’s numbers indicate he can ably deputise as a totemic target man in the Hammers attack. In fact, eight of the Spaniard’s goals for Swansea were headers. The last time Carroll managed that many was when he headed ten during the 2009/10 season for Newcastle United, albeit in the Championship.

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Llorente has discernible stylistic similarities to Carroll but he is a different beast to Hernández and Pérez. The former’s game is shaped by anticipation, coming alive in the box and using his poacher’s instinct to steal in and score, often from close range. Pérez, however, is more of a technical, creative forward. Last season, he scored eight goals on loan at Deportivo La Coruña, but also added six assists.

Arnautović confirmed to Sky Sports this week his desire to continue as West Ham’s main striker. Whether Pellegrini sees it that way remains to be seen.

Even with Pérez’s arrival, it feels as though West Ham could do with adding another proven goalscorer. Llorente is one and his record is as impressive as any of the Hammers’ current crop.

Considering his second-string status at Spurs, though, it’s unlikely he would join unless given assurances over starting football.

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