Fernando Llorente looks set to join Juventus on a free transfer, with the striker’s current club Athletic Bilbao announcing on Thursday that the Serie A champions are in talks to sign him next summer.
Llorente, 27, has made it clear in recent months that he has no intention of agreeing a new deal with the Basque club, and is now free to speak with potential suitors as his contract enters its final six months.
A short statement released via Athletic’s official website confirmed: "Juventus Football Club have contacted Athletic Club on January 3 2013 to communicate that, knowing Fernando Llorente finishes his spell with our club on June 30 2013, they will begin negotiations with the player to add him to their squad."
Llorente has featured intermittently for Athletic so far this season, starting just six games, with Aritz Aduriz proving coach Marcelo Bielsa’s first choice up front. Some sections of the San Mames support have whistled the striker when he has played.
While Juventus now appear in pole position to snap up the Spain international, there are certain to be other sides interested in his signature, with Premier League clubs Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool all mentioned as alternative destinations in recent months.
A cut-price deal for the €35 million-rated player is still possible, although Athletic president Josu Urrutia has repeatedly claimed that he would not be sold under any circumstances.