Why Leicester should beat West Ham and Spurs to sign Diego Llorente
According to the Mirror, Leicester City have been credited with an interest in Real Sociedad centre-back Diego Llorente, with Brendan Rodgers keen to add more to his squad when the transfer window reopens in January.
The 26-year-old, who made his move to Sociedad for a fee of £5million from Real Madrid a couple of years back, has also been monitored by Premier Leauge rivals West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur in recent times, the Mirror claims.
A youth exponent of Real Madrid, the Madrid-born centre-back largely featured for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ sides of the Los Blancos in the lower divisions, while also spending time on loan at Rayo Vallecano and Malaga in the La Liga.
However, Llorente has progressed by leaps and bounds ever since his permanent switch to Sociedad in 2017, establishing himself as one of the mainstays of the club’s backline and gaining international recognition with Spain. The 5-cap Spanish international has made a total of 66 appearances for La Real across all competitions, scoring 7 times in the process.
As per whoscored, Llorente averages 51. 8 passes per game with an accuracy of 87.6%, including 3.6 long balls, 1.4 tackles, 1.1 interceptions, 3.8 clearances and 2.8 aerial duels per game in the La Liga this term, figures which speak volumes of his technical abilities as a modern-day ball-playing central defender.
The 26-year-old has also illustrated the versatility to play in a holding midfield role as a shield for the rearguard, and his burgeoning reputation as one of the best defenders in the Spanish top-flight has apparently put some of the Premier League clubs on red alert.
Meanwhile, Leicester City have laid down an early marker as one of the strong contenders for a Champions League spot, with the Foxes currently placed 3rd in the standings after accumulating 7 wins from their first 11 Premier League fixtures.
Despite the sale of Harry Maguire to Man United in the summer, the Foxes currently boast of one of the best defensive records in the division, having conceded just 8 goals in 11 games.
Caglar Soyuncu, who had a rather quiet debut season at the King Power Stadium last term, has stepped up to establish himself as an undisputed starter alongside the experienced Jonny Evans at the heart of the defence, with veteran Wes Morgan settling for a bit-part role due to his advancing years.
Filip Benkovic, though, has found it hard to break into the playing eleven under Brendan Rodgers, who had shown an inclination to use the Croatian as a regular starter last season during his managerial spell at Celtic when the youngster was on loan at Parkhead.
To put things into perspective, Leicester City have arguably been one of the best defensive units in the Premier League so far this season but it won’t be a bad idea for the Foxes to complete a swoop for Diego Llorente given that they are yet to replace Maguire.
With Benkovic still very much an unproven entity in the Premier League, it is imperative to say that the Foxes could find themselves short of adequate cover at the back in case of an injury to either of the two first-choice centre-backs later on in the campaign.
The touted fee of £45million definitely looks daunting on paper but Leicester have shown that they are not afraid to fork out large amounts of cash, as evident from the transfers of Ayoze Perez and Youri Tielemans in the summer.
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The Foxes need more depth in their squad to compete on equal terms with the big-six and Llorente certainly has the quality to make a big difference.
With that in mind, Diego Llorente to Leicester City in January or next summer certainly makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons and this might well be a move that could pay off handsomely for Rodgers.