Swansea City manager Francesco Guidolin
In the second part of our analysis of Swansea’s offensive options this season, we look at Fernando Llorente, what he will bring and whether he will start ahead of potential signing Borja Baston.
The Spanish striker is a hugely experienced signing and one that the Swansea fans will hope can have a huge impact on their season. He has appeared over 250 times for La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, while he spent last season with Europa League winners Sevilla, before that he spent two seasons with Italian champions Juventus. He is evidently a player of extreme pedigree.
Llorente plays very much as you'd expect, given his height. At 6 feet and 5 inches, the Spaniard uses his stature superbly in the box with his aerial ability and awareness his strongest attributes. His intelligence in the box is also a key part of his game and allows him to take up good positions before attacking the ball.
He also excels in using his strength when it comes to holding the ball up for his teammates. This could prove invaluable to Swansea with their slower build-up play allowing the ball to be passed to the striker who can shield the ball and play a pass for the men running beyond him. His ability with the ball at his feet will also prove to be vital for Swansea, with the forward’s skill moves able to buy him and his teammates valuable time and space.
Swansea City's Fernando Llorente in action with Stade Rennais' Pedro Mendes
Llorente is also a winner. Titles in Italy with Juventus and a Europa League winner’s medal last season with Sevilla show that Llorente is no stranger to silverware and this winning mentality is something Swansea will benefit hugely from. The fans will be praying that Llorente can continue his winning form this season and reignite memories of their famous League Cup win in 2013.
So who should be Swansea’s starting striker this season?
In terms of experience, Llorente wins hands down with over 300 senior appearances. This experience could prove the difference for the Swans, who will need an intelligent striker up front to take his chances. Their two styles of play are very similar. Both are adept in the air and are potent finishers when given the chance and so crosses into the box and playing the ball into feet will work far better for both strikers. Swansea could get unstuck this season if the defence and midfield are able to suffocate direct service with neither striker possessing raw pace that could get them in behind.
Both strikers will get their chance across the season. With cup competitions and league appearances up for grabs, Llorente and Baston will have chances to impress across the season. However, it is likely Llorente will start the season with the 31-year-olds experience a key factor for Swansea this season.