West Ham Opinion: Hammers should not hesitate to sign Diego Llorente as an upgrade on Ogbonna and Reid
According to Football Espana, West Ham are interested in signing Spanish international centre-back Diego Llorente from La Liga outfit Real Sociedad, with reports claiming that London rivals Spurs are also in the race to sign the 25-year-old this summer.
Spurs and West Ham are not the only clubs to have been credited with an interest in Llorente, with Football Espana suggesting that Champions League winners Liverpool are also hot on trail of the 25-year-old, who has earned rave reviews for his performances in the Spanish top-flight over the past two seasons.
A youth product of Real Madrid, Llorente largely featured for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams of the Los Blancos in the lower echelons of Spanish football and made only a handful of first-team appearances for his boyhood club.
The 25-year-old, who started his career as a defensive midfielder before converting into a centre-back, had fruitful loan stints at Rayo Vallecano and Malaga in the La Liga before cutting his ties with Madrid permanently to join Sociedad in 2017.
Llorente hasn’t looked back since then and has taken his career to greater heights, accumulating 7 goals in 57 appearances for Sociedad in all competitions.
Llorente’s fine run of form in the La Liga has propelled him back into contention for a place in Spain’s senior national team. Although not a regular starter for Spain by any means, the 25-year-old has been in and around the international set-up in recent times and has amassed 4 caps till date.
Standing at 6ft. 1 inch with a towering and well-built frame, Llorente is noted for his astute positioning, technical abilities on the ball and ball-playing attributes as a centre-back, which complements his physicality and incredible aerial ability at the heart of the backline.
Adept at staying on his feet to intercept the passes and cut out the attacks by clearing the ball away to safety, the Spaniard also has the confidence and the drive to carry the ball forward with intent, whilst his impeccable long-passing skills make him a real asset to any team.
The 25-year-old registered a pass accuracy rate of 84.8 last season, including 1.2 tackles, 1.2 interceptions, 3.8 clearances, 2.8 aerial duels and 4.1 successful long balls per game, figures which lie testament to his well-rounded abilities as a dynamic modern-day centre-half.
To put things into perspective, West Ham have already made waves in the summer transfer window this time around, with the Hammers stealing the limelight with big-money deals for Spanish playmaker Pablo Fornals and French striker Sebastien Haller.
Having strengthened their midfield and forward line, the East Londoners should not turn their attention to the defensive options in the ranks.
While a long-term replacement for right-back Pablo Zabaleta remains a priority, West Ham should also be open to the prospect of freshening up things at the heart of the defence with some new arrivals.
Issa Diop has been a massive hit at the London Stadium since his move from Toulouse last summer and whilst the 22-year-old Frenchman is only going to get better with time, Manuel Pellegrini should not hesitate to bring in upgrades on the likes of Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna.
Both Fabian Balbuena and Ogbonna proved themselves to be error-prone central defenders in the Premier League last season, while Reid never played a part in any competition.
Hence, it is easy to see that someone like Diego Llorente could help the Hammers improve massively at the back by adding more depth, quality and stability to the club’s defensive ranks.
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That said, the fans at the London Stadium will be hoping that the Hammers continue their spending spree by splashing the cash on the 25-year-old Spanish international before the deadline in August.