Barcelona are reportedly targeting Athletico Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente as their primary summer transfer target.
According to Sport, the Spanish giants have identified the striker as an ideal addition to their roster of forwards due to his strength in the penalty area and his dynamic aerial abilities, publicized by his recent triumphs in this year’s Europa League and Copa del Rey.
The paper tells of how Barcelona’s sporting director, one Andoni Zubizarreta, has already authorized a bid for Llorente but is wishing to exercise discretion in hope of beating some of Europe’s other big clubs.
Barcelona’s attack is heavily dependent on Lionel Messi, and even though the Spanish giants have attempted to add more to their attacking presence in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they have largely failed to produce a team not completely dependent on the Argentine.
27-year-old Llorente has hit the back of the net seven times in his last 20 appearances for his country and will be playing for a Bilbao side that take on Barcelona in this month’s Copa del Rey final at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
The Spaniard certainly fits the profile of a hard-hitting, athletic centre-forward that Barcelona are looking for, which is surprising since Barca allowed Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to leave the club in transfer windows gone by. Llorente has notched 16 league goals from 30 first-team appearances for Bilbao, and has been instrumental in the Basques’ journey to the finals of both the Copa del Rey and Europa League.
Bilbao will be tempted to cash in their star striker in the summer rather than see their talisman leave the club for free when his contract expires next summer.
Eager to fend off some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, Barcelona are looking to pay both a lucrative transfer fee and generous salary to lure Llorente to the Camp Nou in the summer transfer window. It is not known whether the recent departure of Barca manager Pep Guardiola could influence the signing of Llorente in any way.