Juventus are now favorites to land Arsenal’s long time transfer target Fernando Llorente, while Conte is also planning to splash the cash on Theo Walcott.
Fernando Llorente has been in the news all summer after expressing his desire to leave Athletic Bilbao to play in a different league. The Spanish international is serving the final year of his current contract at Bilbao and is unwilling to extend it as he looks for ‘new challenges’.
Llorente’s relationship with the Marcelo Bielsa , Athletico Bibao’s manager, aren’t suited and after the player was booed by the fans on the pitch, it is increasingly clear that the club should be willing to sell him in a cut-price deal in January.
Juventus and Arsenal have been the front-runners for the Spaniard’s signature, in their pursuit of a prolific striker. Arsenal had sold Robin van Persie in the summer to Manchester United without being able to bring in an equal match. Juventus had made their intentions known about acquiring van Persie’s services but they could not match up to Man United’s offer.
According to reports, Juventus have already offered him a £145,000-per-week provisional contract, which will make Llorente the joint top earner at the club alongside Buffon. Arsenal’s wage caps might come as a deterrent here, if they wish to acquire Llorente’s services. Arsene Wenger has previously shown stubborn reluctance in offering contracts with enormous wages to the players and therefore Juventus are now the favorites to land the striker in January. As a matter of fact, Arsenal have already scouted Adrian Lopez as their secondary target.
Media reports also suggest that Juventus are now looking to bid for Theo Walcott in the winter. Walcott’s contract talks with Arsenal are at a standstill, being part of a never-ending saga which by now has a script strong enough to make a successful soap opera. While Arsene Wenger strongly believes that Walcott will extend his contract, no progress has been made yet.
“They [talks] are going on, but there is no news about that. My determination has always been the same, to extend his contract. That other clubs are interested or not, the determination is the same.”
“The good news is that Theo had his first run today and is looking quite well, so he should be back shortly.” – Wenger was quoted in press yesterday.
Juventus’ coach Conte is believed to have made Walcott one of his primary targets during the winter transfer window alongside Llorente. Arsenal will be forced to sell the England international if he decides against extending his stay at the Emirates, making the player available at cheap. Walcott’s price may not be of as much of a problem for the Italian Champions, however the players continued insistence over playing in the central area, might not go well with Conte.
Walcott had demanded Wenger’s assurances over a regular starting position in the team and more importantly, a central role in the forward line. Neither of those demands are likely to be fulfilled at Juventus. Conte views Walcott mostly as a right-sided attacker, but since Juventus mostly play with wing-backs in their 3-5-2 formation, Lichtsteiner will be preferred in the wide role with Walcott providing an option from the bench when they need to add an attacking impetus. Juventus are also unlikely to start him upfront.