Fernando Llorente’s deadline day transfer from Swansea City to Tottenham Hotspur surprised a lot of people, not least because of Llorente’s... well, let’s just call it “experience.” The Spanish striker is 32 years young, which instantly made him the club’s second oldest player behind reserve keeper Michel Vorm.
On a club that has been outwardly encouraging and promoting youth from its academy along with scooping up young, overlooked talents from England and beyond, Llorente’s signing left many scratching their heads. Surely this bucks Tottenham’s modus operands?
Not so, according to Mauricio Pochettino, who denied that the club has an “age limit” and that Llorente fit the model of what he was looking for in a backup striker.
"From the beginning here, Daniel Levy has never said to me, 'We cannot sign players who are over 25.' Never. I promise you he's never said that.
"All we do is try to find a profile that will fit what we need for the club, but he has never said to me, 'That is the limit of the age -- we can or we cannot.'“
Poche acknowledged the difficulty he’s had in finding a player that would not only be content to back up Harry Kane, but who is content doing so, and who would bring a different character to the squad.
"It is not easy in the market to find a player who wants to come and do that, as everyone recognises him as one of the best strikers in the world and for a club like us it is not easy to find.
"That is why Llorente is perfect, and fits very well for us in our project."
Those remarks are a little telling, especially in light of how quickly Pochettino was keen to dump Vincent Janssen, who is now on loan at Fenerbahce. It’s taken Llorente a bit to adapt to Pochettino’s tactics and find his place in the side, but he was brilliant in the match against Real Madrid in the Champions League last week, and he’s expected to get the start this evening against West Ham in the Carabao Cup.
One thing we’ve learned this season is that this is a highly adaptable and tactically flexible Spurs side, more than what any of us have given them credit for. He’s not expected to bang in 15 goals this season, but he probably doesn’t have to, and he provides some invaluable leadership to a young side that isn’t yet used to winning at the highest level.
He has very little resale value, and it would surprise nobody if north London is the last stop in Fernando’s long football career. Nevertheless, Llorente certainly seems to be a vital cog in the Tottenham machine, even if that cog has been spinning around a lot and is starting to show some wear along the edges.