Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente is desperate to secure a move to the Premier League during the January transfer window, according to reports in Spain.
Llorente has endured a tough time at Bilbao since rejecting the offer of a contract extension over the summer, and has been booed by his own fans.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham have all been linked with a move for the Spanish striker in recent months, along with Italian giants Juventus.
Despite reports during the summer window suggesting he was destined for a move to Serie A, Spanish newspaper AS report that he wants to ply his trade in England and has the option of moving to either Manchester City, Tottenham or Arsenal.
Both Spurs and Arsenal appear somewhat short in the forward department, with the Gunners still looking for a long-term replacement to Robin van Persie, while Tottenham can only call upon either Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor to lead the line despite the arrival of Clint Dempsey.
According to AS, Manchester City lead the race for Llorente’s signature and met with the player’s agent, his brother Chus, towards the end of last season to discuss a potential switch to the Etihad Stadium.
The paper reports that any move for Llorente by Manchester City could only be facilitated by the departure of either Edin Dzeko or Mario Balotelli.
Dzeko has impressed this season with his goalscoring despite having to regularly start games from the bench, and while Balotelli was openly criticised by Manchester City chief Brian Marwood today, Citizens manager Roberto Macnini shares a close relationship with his countryman and has previously insisted he won’t be sold.
Tottenham remain keen on taking Llorente to White Hart Lane, although the player himself is reportedly keen on Champions League football so wouldn’t favour a move to Spurs.
Despite his insistence otherwise, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could be willing to throw his hat into the ring for the 27-year-old, especially given Olivier Giroud’s record in front of goal for the Gunners so far this season. Given that Llorente is nearing the end of his deal with Bilbao, a fee of around £15 million could secure his services.
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