Thursday, 17 May 2012

Rumour Mill: City Close In On Spanish Striker?

The dust has barely settled on the events of last Sunday, and already preparations are being put in place for the 2012-2013 season, and the defense of our title (read that sentence again, it sounds good doesn't it?).  

According to the press it is our forward line that could be getting a reshuffle.  Sergio Aguero will remain in all likelihood, and I imagine Mario Balotelli will most likely stay as well, so it is the futures of Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko that remain in the balance.  The pressing rumour today is of a deal being wrapped up for Spain and Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, a strange decision based on the players we already have.

Llorente is a good striker, in fact he's better than that, he is an excellent striker.  He gave Manchester United no end of trouble in their Europa League meetings, he was a dangerous part of a very skilful attacking unit.  At 6'5 it is pretty easy to see where his strengths lie, he is lethal in the air and has good strength and presence to go along with it; although likening him to Andy Carroll would be doing him a disservice, he is very adept with the ball at his feet, and  with his excellent technique it is no surprise that he is such a regular for Spain, he doesn't appear out of place playing with the World Cup holders.

Spanish tabloid/rag AS are reporting today that a deal is almost done, as with all players in Spain there is a release clause in his contract, the figure in this case is around £29million and the paper claim City are ready to offer this sum to secure his services.  They go as far as to suggest that discussions have already taken place between the club and his brother Chus, who acts as his agent and representative.  

Clearly an expensive deal to finance, but on a player who would certainly be a good performer, my question though is over how necessary he really is?  The report in AS claims that City view Llorente as the perfect partner for Aguero (something which may suggest the end of Tevez in Manchester), so the suggestion being they want to partner Kun, with a powerful tall forward; now I may be wrong but I am pretty certain we have one of those already on our books.  

Even with his vital goal on Sunday, the writing appears to be on the wall for Dzeko.  Gauging by his celebration and enjoyment of victory on Sunday, I would say he has strong feelings for the club, and this would suggest to me that his poorer performances this season have not been down to lack of effort, more a lack of confidence.  A return of 19 goals in 40 games this season is one that would be deemed successful by many, but there are still many doubters over the players ability.  It wasn't just his own performances that were impressive, when he was partnered with Aguero for the opening months of the season, the team were playing their best football, all this suggests to me that we already have the perfect partner for the Argentine, or at least a very good one.

To sell a player with that scoring record, and who scored such a vital goal to win us the title would be a mistake in my eyes, but lets put the Dzeko issue to one side for the time being, what about Llorente?  Well as I say, he is a high quality striker, and would arguably be an upgrade on the Bosnian but at 27 I am not sure he represents value for money when we already have the aforementioned player who has arguably a better scoring record over his career.

Prior to the last 2 campaigns, Llorente has notching up about 11 goals a season, and whilst in more recent years this has improved (18 in 2010-2011 and 17 in 2011-2012) I am still not sure if he is worth the gamble at that price.  I can't help but feel that should we spend £30million on a new striker, it should be on someone different to what we already have.  Cavani would fit the bill nicely or even Robin Van Persie, but for me, as good as Llorente is, i'm not sure he would be that much of an improvement on Dzeko.

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