It’s not everyday that Crystal Palace get linked to a World Cup winning striker, but this weekend, according to reports in the Italian press, it seems that Alan Pardew has entered the race to sign Fernando Llorente from Juventus.
The Spaniard, who is also thought to be attracting interest from the likes of Arsenal, Stoke and Sevilla, moved to Italy in the summer of 2013, after spending his career up until then with Basque side Athletic Bilbao and has since bagged 27 goals in 85 appearances for the Old Lady, nine of which came last season.
Despite his sizeable role in Juve’s title win last term, the striker, who is now the wrong side of 30, is likely to struggle for game time throughout the upcoming campaign if he stays put, with Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala already above him in the pecking order, despite Carlos Tevez’s departure.
Known as a prolific and experienced frontman, Palace would supposedly only have to pay £8.5 million to take him away from Juventus, which, in today’s market, seems like a genuine bargain on the face of things, particularly when you consider how well suited his game would be to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League, where his sizeable frame is likely to come in extremely handy from week to week.
Whether or not a move for him would be viewed as an alternative to Connor Wickham remains to be seen, but with Patrick Bamford having already joined the club on loan, it looks unlikely that the board would sanction two signings of that magnitude within days of one another for players who would be vying for the same position in the side.
Indeed, Alan Pardew appears likely to continue using a lone striker for at least the first few months of the 2015/16 season, limiting the opportunities for the likes of Murray, Gayle, Bamford and Chamakh as it is, with one of Wickham or Llorente likely to be brought in as a feasible first-choice alternative to the above list of names.
Personally, I can see benefits in signing either one, but for the majority of Palace fans, you would assume that the experience of Llorente would be enough to edge the balance of opinion in his favour, as we look to build upon last year’s 10th placed finish with a push towards the top eight between now and next May.