Fernando Llorente isn't getting the kind of hype as fellow newbie striker Carlos Tevez this summer. His move to Turin was expected, not a quick and sudden move like there was for his expected strike partner. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of hope pinned to the tall and lengthy frame that is Llorente.
With that being said, what can we expect from the Spanish international this upcoming season? Or, better yet, what are realistic expectations for a player who hasn't exactly seen a lot of game action in the past 12 months?
It seems like there are three options.
1. Llorente will light Serie A on fire and score like they're basically going out of style.
2. Llorente will be good, but not great, scoring a decent amount goals — some of which being decisive.
3. Llorente will be completely meh, sprinkling in sporadic quality performances around a bunch of so-so outings.
It's the middle of July and optimism is high around these parts. Hey, feel free to help your self to some, folks. But for some reason I don't think the third and final option is really in play for the main fact that the supporting cast around Llorente will likely create plenty of opportunities — be it to score a goal or set one up a teammate.
Maybe that's just me. Like I said, this usually-optimistic guy is feeling pretty optimistic.
Llorente's resume speaks for itself — a perennial 20-goal scorer for Bilbao in the three seasons before last year's complete personal mess of a 2012-13 campaign where he only made four more starts in La Liga than any of us. He has scored domestically and in Europe — albeit the Europe League, not the Champions League — on a consistent basis for the better part of the past five or six years.
There is, of course, the fact that Llorente hasn't had much of any game action in the last year, though. And while I'd freak out about it, you look at how he's arrived at Juventus — hungry, in fantastic condition ahead of preseason training, and, maybe most important of all, happy as all can be — and it's hard not to think happy thoughts about what may be in store.
Think about this: Llorente is the kind of prima punta that Antonio Conte has been looking for ever since he was named Juve's manager. His characteristics, not just ability to score goals, is something this current Juventus team has lacked under Conte. Llorente's ability to play with his back to goal and hold up play will be a huge asset to the team, especially when you consider that the likes of Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal love to make runs from the midfield into the box on a regular basis.
Of course, all of this depends on how the 28-year-old Llorente adapts to life in Serie A. Will there be an adjustment period? Yeah, probably. There's going to be the stigma that Spanish players don't always have the greatest amount of success in Italy. And it's not like every player can come in right off the bat and be complete badasses like a certain Chilean with the last name of Vidal.
We can be optimistic all we want, but these next few weeks of training carry a little bit more weight for Mr. Llorente than just your "average" preseason period. And if Llorente turns out to be anything close to the last player Juventus brought in on a free transfer, then things will turn out to be with plenty of more positives to talk about than negatives.