It’s not a transfer window without a couple of completely improbable and hilarious transfer rumor stories. As a public service to you, our loyal readers, we like to point these out and explain to you why these kinds of rumors aren’t likely to happen. We call it “Dispatches from Bat Country” after a 2012 article on Carty-Free by The Sleeper’s Sleep.
Chelsea have been linked with all kinds of strikers this window in an attempt to ostensibly “solve” their striking crisis. The most prominent of these links has been their apparent dalliance with West Ham’s Andy Carroll, but now there’s a new contender for a trip to Stamford Bridge: Fernando Llorente.
Miguel Delaney, writing for the Independent, claims that Antonio Conte, who managed Nando while both were at Juventus, wants to bring Llorente to Chelsea as the primary backup to Avaro Morata. This is ostensibly because Fernando already knows the way Conte likes to play, and because Conte thinks he can help mentor Morata as he adjusts to the Premier League.You might remember that Chelsea was the other club who was interested in signing Llorente this summer, before Spurs nabbed him on the last day of the window.
So, Miguel Delaney is a perfectly good reporter and I’m pretty sure he’s not making this up out of whole cloth here. The idea that Conte would want to bring in his former player is absolutely reasonable, and I have no doubt that he’d love to do that. That said, I have a couple of reactions:
If the idea of Spurs letting Llorente go six months after signing him wasn’t ludicrous enough, the implication that Spurs would willingly do a deal with Chelsea that would actively hurt them in the second half of the season is laughable. The two clubs haven’t had the warmest of relationships dating back to the gazumping of Willian a few years ago, to the point where making a deal between the two is practically a non-starter these days.
Chelsea and Spurs are direct rivals for top four. Tottenham have absolutely no reason to sell apart from stupid money, and even if they had a ready-made signing to step in, their continued participation in the Champions League and Llorente’s adaptation into the squad make this silly at best.
However, we have a counter-proposal:
2. Swap Nando for Michy
Michael Caley proposed this in the Carty Free slack channel and it’s about the only way I can see this happening. Spurs really wanted Michy Batshuayi a couple of summers ago as their primary Harry Kane backup but couldn’t compete with Chelsea’s purchasing power. Conte, however, doesn’t appear to remember that Batshuayi exists. I’d be willing to countenance a Fernando-for-Michy swap deal, though. A 32-year old Champions League veteran striker for a 24-year old Belgian with skills, potential, and a thirst to prove himself who’s been frozen out at his current club? OK.
Let’s be clear. Neither of these things are going to happen. Llorente’s not leaving in January, and Spurs aren’t going to swap him for Michy. I do, however, believe that Conte thinks that Fernando Llorente could help his side. That much feels, if not believable, at least somewhat rational. But it’s not happening, and we shouldn’t waste any more brainpower thinking about it.