Arsenal to miss out on 'bargain' Llorente as Juventus close in

Glen Johnson England

Have Arsenal missed out signing the striker they need to fill the boots of Robin van Persie as Fernando Llorente looks set to join Juventus?

Juventus are willing to do whatever it takes to secure a deal for Spanish international striker Fernando Llorente, who is desperate to leave Athletic Bilbao.

Llorente has spent the majority of the season on the bench under Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa after he made his desire to play for a bigger club known last summer and the Italian side are keen to buy him now rather than risk losing him to a number of sides in June.

The Spaniard's current deal with Athletic expires on June 1st but the Basque club are considering cashing in this January rather than lose him on a free transfer.

A number of European clubs had shown interest in the 27-year-old with Arsenal said to be on top of that list but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger seems to have moved his interest elsewhere.

That leaves the path clear for Juventus who have now sent a formal offer of just £3.3m for a striker who scored 29 goals in 53 appearances for Athletic last season and has won FIFA World Cup and European championship with Spain.

Whilst Llorente's time at Athletic may be coming to an end, one of the reasons Arsenal have moved their interest elsewhere is said to be his lack of playing time this season.

However, for any team in the Premier League, especially Arsenal, who have struggled to replace Robin van Persie this season, Llorente could have been a superb buy.

Atletico Madrid's Adrian Lopez is said to be close on a deal with the Gunners but he is unlikely to provide them with the amount of goals Llorente most certainly would.

A bargain missed by Arsene Wenger then, but what is Arsenal's loss, and Athletic's, is Juventus' gain.

image: © Alfonso Jimenez

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch