It's been a long adventure — or whatever you want to call it — for Beppe Marotta and his hunt for a top-tier striker. There's been rejected offers, probably a few complaint emails along the way, but like a popular song from a couple of years ago so clearly stated, Juventus' director general has been out there grindin away until the search was over.
As of Thursday, the hunt for a striker has ended. Well, at least bringing in one for the 2013-14 season.
The long-awaited and anticipated move of 27-year-old Spanish international striker Fernando Llorente from Athletic Bilbao to Juventus has finally been sealed, on a Bossman transfer that will see him begin his career in bianconero come the first of July, just a matter of days before preseason training will get underway.
Straight from the release on juventus.com:
Juventus can confirm that Spanish international striker Fernando Llorente will join the club on 1 July 2013.
The 27-year-old has agreed on a four-year deal and will move to Turin when his Athletic Bilbao contract expires at the end of the current season.
Born in Pamplona on 26 February 1985, Llorente progressed through the Basque outfit's academy ranks before being loaned out to feeder club Baskonia during the 2003/04 season.
Bolstered by a season's first team experience, the frontman, nicked El Rey Leon (The Lion King), soon became a permanent fixture in Athletic Bilbao's strikeforce.
In nine seasons at the San Mamés, Llorente has 334 appearances and scored 104 goals in all competitions. The striker's best return cam during the 2011/12 campaign, when his 29 strikes helped Los Leones to the Copa Del Ray and Europa League finale.
So, what started this summer is now a reality. Good. Now the Italian press can calm down with all these "What are Juventus going to do for a striker?" types of articles. That sounds like a fantastic idea, guys. Too bad they've got nothing else to write about now.
Ha, who am I kidding. It's Italy, dammit.
Regardless of what the press do or don't do from here on out, there's one fact that is for certain: Llorente, on an absolutely free transfer, is one hell of a coup by Marotta and his crew. I mean, seriously, a striker with that kind of game-to-goal ratio right in the prime of his career for NOTHING?! Nothing! What an acquisition.
Yeah, I can say that Marotta got this one right a thousand times over. And with Llorente basically doing nothing this season at Bilbao because of issues with Athletic's manager, Marcelo Bielsa, arriving in the summer where he can adapt to Italy and learn Antonio Conte's system is likely the best thing for both the player and his new team.
I just continue to think that Llorente, a player who I've seen valued around €20-25 million, is arriving at Juventus for not a damn thing. You gotta like that.
Not bad, guys. Not bad at all.