Coral’s Rumour Reel: Man Utd ‘mystery striker’ could be Fernando Llorente
Following Louis van Gaal’s announcement that Manchester United, 5/1 with Coral to win the Premier League next term, are tracking a player, yet to be linked to the club in the media and who the press have coined a ‘mystery striker’, latest reports indicate that this could be Juventus’ 30-year-old frontman Fernando Llorente.
The Spaniard has struggled since his switch to the Serie A outfit, scoring just 27 goals in 90 appearances and was restricted to just five minutes as a late substitute in Juve’s Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
Van Gaal bemoaned the lack of height in attack last term, often using Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini as a makeshift striker, though standing at 6ft 5in, Llorente would offer the requisite aerial presence.
However, United could be competing with Real Madrid for his signature, after Rafa Benitez declared his admiration for the striker, who scored a sensational goal for Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford as they beat United in the Europa League in 2012 over two legs on their way to the final.
Should Llorente move to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, he would link up with former Bilbao teammate Ander Herrera, who he had an almost telepathic on-field relationship with at the Basque club, he could well be an astute signing by Van Gaal if he lands him.
Elsewhere, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has conceded that he may have to pay an extraordinary amount of money for Everton centre back John Stones after having an initial bid of £20m turned down. The Blues were thought to be preparing to increase their offer to £26m, though it is understood the Toffees want at least £30m before they even consider talking.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are believed to be waiting for bids on strikers Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert, with Christian Benteke set to complete his £32.5m move from Aston Villa imminently. West Ham have been linked with the former and West Bromwich Albion are thought to be preparing a £3m bid for the ex-Saints striker.