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Fernando Llorente a pragmatic option for Madrid if the conditions are right

Fernando Llorente will not set pulses racing at Real Madrid but he could be a good option for Rafa Benitez next season.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Fernando Llorente is reported to be somewhere near the top of Rafa Benitez's transfer hit list this summer and if Real Madrid work out a good deal for the former Athletic Bilbao man it could be a shrewd bit of business.

Llorente is no longer classed as one of Europe's elite strikers and his possible arrival will not exactly leave Madrid fans licking their lips at the season ahead like the signing of someone such as his team-mate Paul Pogba, who looks destined for Barcelona, perhaps would.

Indeed, the Pamplona native's best years may well be behind him and had Madrid captured the Spain international three years ago, when he was at the peak of his powers, the excitement levels would have gone up a notch. If Llorente winds up at the Bernabeu this summer it will be a player whose career has started on a downward curve.

Madrid fans will look at his age, 30, his goal return last season, just seven in Serie A for champions Juventus, and the fact that he ended up playing second fiddle to Madrid reject Alvaro Morata in the second half of the campaign. This calendar year has not been a great one for a man who shone in the cathedral of San Mames just three years ago but Liverpool and Monaco are still amongst his potential suitors.

That all means that his possible addition to a star-studded Madrid squad will be met with question marks, especially in a pre-season with a new man in charge and on the back of an historic treble for Barcelona, who are closing on a big-money move for Pogba, and a season-to-forget for Madrid.

Madrid fans always expect big names, especially after a season without a major trophy but sometimes a pragmatic approach is needed and Llorente could fit the bill on the right terms.

Benitez needs to boost his squad's attacking threat. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will remain the main man while Jese Rodriguez will provide back-up but the decision not to turn Javier Hernandez's loan deal into a permanent switch still leaves Madrid looking for more options.

That leaves Madrid not in desperate need for a ‘Galactico' in attack, with other areas a priority, but they do need to strengthen. If Llorente is happy enough to move to the Spanish capital and not be a regular starter then business could be good for all parties.

Benitez is expected to change Madrid's approach but he is not expected to tinker with his star trio in attack. Whether Cristiano Ronaldo moves to a central position and Gareth Bale moves out to the left still remains to be seen but what will not be a surprise are the rotations the former Napoli and Valencia coach will implement.

In the big games they will all start but with Madrid competing for silverware in every competition they play in, changes need to be made. Carlo Ancelotti did not do that with his attack but Benitez will and his needs the pieces to fit into the jigsaw. Llorente will be competition for Benzema but he will also be the man most likely to give the Frenchman rest when he needs it. The plan is to keep all players fresh.

Llorente may have suffered an indifferent season with Juventus but he still has quality. Like Benzema, he is not a No.9 who will score goals for fun, even with the ammunition being provided from stars such as Bale, James Rodriguez, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, but he will be a man who crucially links the play. Madrid have no shortage of goalscorers and it will not be of big concern if Llorente cannot find the net on a regular basis.

The 30-year-old is more than just a powerful forward, with his build-up play and first-touch setting him apart from other players with a similar build. That will allow him to link the play well on a regular basis, especially with Madrid expected to dominate matches more weekends than not.

He has the height to trouble from set-pieces, dead ball situations that will be delivered on a plate by players such as Bale, James, Kroos and Modric, and he is good with the ball in tight situations. Teams often ‘park the bus' against Madrid in the hope of frustrating and getting something from the game and Llorente is good in those positions, much like Benzema.

There will be those who say Llorente is a like-for-like Benzema and while that is true with some of his traits, that is not necessarily a bad thing for Madrid, especially with Ronaldo an option to add pace and an eye for goal in the No.9 role - if he agrees. Jese also offers that extra pace, too, and Bale can play through the middle. The options are numerous and if Llorente arrives there is nothing to say Madrid cannot and will not go out and get another player in the fast and furious mould of Javier Hernandez.

Llorente is also well liked generally amongst the Madrid fans, which may not come into the thinking when signing him but will help. Few opposition players received applause from the Bernabeu but Llorente has enjoyed that experience in the past. He has also been linked with Madrid before, and with Benitez during his coaching days at Liverpool.

The conditions need to be right but if they are Llorente to Madrid could be good business. Those conditions should not include Isco going in the other direction and Madrid should not be held to ransom by Juventus, who will know how desperate Perez is to boost his squad after last season. Given Sergio Ramos's disapproval of his personal value at the club, Llorente's contract should fit into the Madrid hierarchy, too. If everything fits, Madrid could have a good attacking option on their hands for the next few years.

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