Fernando Llorente Is Showing Why Chelsea Wanted To Shop in Wales

Fernando Llorente has not scored for four games. Pic: Getty Images.

Fernando Llorente Is Showing Why Chelsea Wanted To Shop in Wales

For those curious back in January as to why Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wanted to shop at the very bottom of the Premier League for a new striker, the future testimony of Martin Olsson on his Swansea City teammate Fernando Llorente would have been instructive.

There were eyebrows raised when Conte attempted, at length, to sign Llorente. Swansea had amassed just 12 points and the 32-year-old Spaniard had scored a respectable but unremarkable six goals in 17 matches.

Llorente’s two goals against Burnley – both classical centre-forward headers at the far post – means he has scored five in his last six matches and the effect has been transformative on the Welsh club’s chances of avoiding the drop.

Olsson – another whose impact in recent weeks has been hugely influential for head coach Paul Clement’s side – scored the other goal between Llorente’s strikes and then revealed what it is like to play with and against a forward as aerially proficient as Llorente.

“What he is doing is fantastic,” said Olsson, who surging runs from left-back, and knack for scoring, have been a feature of Swansea’s confident play since his #4m move from Norwich City.

“He is exactly what we need. If we cannot work the ball on the ground, we can look to put the ball in to him and he is there.

“He is the same in training. He wins absolutely everything in the air and is a nightmare when we do attack v defence. All the lads try to avoid him. We try and elbow him a bit to put him off, but he is a strong, strong guy.

“It is good to have him. He has been at big clubs before, but he is a nice guy, a really humble guy and he works so hard. The whole team’s style of play suits him and it has been good.”

Llorente – who moved to Swansea for #5m from Seville last summer – has an orthodoxy of style that is no longer in vogue at most clubs. In the manner of Andy Carroll, who was referenced by Clement, modern defenders are discomforted by a challenge they are literally unable to rise to.

Certainly, Burnley were and their smash-and-grab 2-1 lead always felt precarious with half an hour remaining and Llorente still on the field.

Swansea used to be the pass masters, and still are to some extent, but as Olsson suggests the neat football orchestrated by Gylfi Sigurdsson and the impressive Tom Carroll has now been augmented by the option of swinging in crosses to Llorente.

Burnley, for whom Andre Gray looked sharp in scoring twice – the first, a highly dubious penalty – are still without an away win this season and have to be considered as within the relegation mix.

But their industrious defender Ben Mee – who made a goal-line clearance to deny Sigurdsson – believes they can see themselves safe.

Mee said: “The bonus is that it’s another game gone and we are still nine points clear of the drop zone.

“We want to win as many games as we can with 11 games to go. But we need to go into every game like we did last year, towards the end of the season. We went on a good unbeaten run last year and we need to have that same frame of mind towards the end of this season.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.