Spain’s other Fernando stakes his claim
Spain are missing their top scorer David Villa as they look to defend their Euro title – but they retain plenty of firepower with Fernando Torres having seemingly rediscovered his form of late and Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente staking their claims for glory.
Llorente is out in particular to show that there is not ‘only one Fernando’ who has hit the headlines and the back of the net after his 29 goals in 48 games last season for Bilbao – including a superlative effort which helped knock Manchester United out of the Europa League.
Yet despite those goals, the man the Spanish call The Lion King is third in the pecking order behind Torres and Negredo.
Coach Vicente Del Bosque knows Negredo well from having worked with him when the latter was just starting out at Real Madrid while Torres’ recent Chelsea revival and experience gives him a certain advantage – even if Del Bosque is not afraid of benching him if he feels the occasion warrants it.
Llorente – whose second, maternal family name is, ironically, Torres, did not manage to land a trophy this season unlike his London-based near namesake, who celebrated a Champions League victory.
The 27-year-old from Pamplona came close but had to settle for runners-up medals in both the Europa League and the Spanish Cup final.
Such setbacks have only served to deepen his desire to play a role at the Euros.
“I am working hard as I know I can help the team at any moment and I also know I can do so as a first choice player,” he insisted.
“We are all three of us capable of doing a job and the coach will have to decide” if he gives his third-choice a chance to shine.
Despite being the number three on the strikers list Llorente is highly thought of and was the first choice of Spanish fans in a recent internet poll.
“It’s great that people think you are capable of being in the first team. We all three are but it is down to the coach. it’s not an easy task.”
Llorente insisted he could be a very effective target man, whereas he saw Negredo as more playing off a classic number nine as a fox in the box. In addition, “Torres is very good at finding and using space and is a good header of the ball.”