Arsenal and Manchester City are stepping up their interest in Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente.
By Pete O’Rourke
Llorente’s future at Bilbao has been the subject of speculation for some time with the Spain international turning down a new deal at San Mames.
The 27-year-old is out of contract next summer and Bilbao could look to sell him in January rather than risk losing him for nothing at the end of the season.
Juventus tried to sign Llorente in the summer transfer window, but a deal failed to materialise and Arsenal and City are now weighing up moves for the giant forward in the New Year.
Llorente impressed for Bilbao last season, scoring 30 goals in 53 appearances, including netting against Manchester United both home and away in the Europa League as they reached the final.
Arsenal could be in the market for striking reinforcements having not brought in a replacement for Robin van Persie following his departure to Manchester United.
City boss Roberto Mancini is thought to be an admirer of Llorente and could be keen to bolster his attacking options in January as doubts continue to surround the long-term futures of Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.