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Is Fernando Llorente Manchester United's mystery transfer target?

Louis van Gaal's surprise transfer target is reportedly Juventus' Fernando Llorente.

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The football gossip columns have this week been dominated by Louis van Gaal's announcement that he's still in the market for a new striker, though one that Manchester United have yet to be linked with the British press. However, the Mirror think they know who van Gaal's mystery man is, with their reporter David McDonnell writing in Wednesday's paper that the Reds have asked to be "kept informed" of Fernando Llorente's situation at Juventus.


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It's a strange rumor and that's some strange wording. It suggests United haven't yet made a formal approach for the striker, and may still be biding their time in searching for a better alternative. Llorente has never been a top tier striker, and at 30 years old would seem rather a cut-price option for a club that haven't had any qualms about splashing the cash over the last couple of seasons.

Why it makes sense

It makes sense in that Llorente is a tall, powerful striker who'd add some physicality to van Gaal's attack. We know United are in the market for this kind of player, and though Llorente isn't going to set the Premier League alight, he certainly ticks some of the boxes. He'd also probably be satisfied with a rotation role, which would allow captain Wayne Rooney to continue to be the nominal starter up front.

Back in April, van Gaal lamented the shortness of his starting lineup, with the Manchester Evening News quoting him as saying: "when you see our selection, our height is not tall enough. We have a big deficit in height." Now, with United's (and perhaps world football's) only heading specialist Marouane Fellaini set to lose his place in the starting lineup, that deficit could be all the more apparent. Adding Llorente -- who stands at 6'5 -- would certainly address that problem.

There's also the fact that Juventus would probably sell him for a relatively low figure. This summer they've added Mario Mandžukić, Simone Zaza, Paulo Dybala and Alberto Cerri to an attack already consisting of Llorente, Álvaro Morata and Kingsley Coman, so selling the Spaniard now -- before his age shrinks his value too dramatically -- would probably be a sensible move.

Why it doesn't make sense

However, there's the simple problem that Llorente just may not be good enough for United. Last season he scored only seven goals in 31 games for Juventus, which isn't an especially impressive return for a player of his age. Admittedly, he did play more of a target man role rather than as a goal poacher himself, but his goal tally dropped by over half from the season prior. There are undoubtedly better options out there for United.

Likelihood it happens

Fernando Llorente is the sort of player that van Gaal is probably looking at signing, but it'd be a surprise if he really is the chosen one. He's pretty old and hasn't been prolific in a league in which a 38-year-old Luca Toni still scores a hatful. Yes, he'd be cheap, but money is of little concern for United. 3/10 chance of happening.

This is a post from our transfer rumors section. For news, analysis and more, check out the main SB Nation Soccer page.