This story continues to be framed in terms of Conte “frustrations” and conflict with the Chelsea Board — as timeless a love story as Twilight — about the lack of numbers at the center forward position, but as far as we understand it, if Chelsea had signed Fernando Llorente in the summer, Michy Batshuayi would’ve been off on a loan, thus keeping the squad at “just” two center forwards. Granted, Conte may have been more ready to trust the veteran striker with whom he worked at Juventus, but in terms of just raw numbers, nothing would’ve changed. There’s no guarantee that Conte would’ve put on Llorente against Manchester City, for example, and we’d still be looking at having to rely on a backup during Morata’s injury — still not an ideal situation regardless of whether that backup’s shirt reads Batshuayi or Llorente.
That’s not to say that Chelsea didn’t make an effort at Llorente — we had been linked since January, after all — but given the striker’s age, it’s hardly surprising that we didn’t try to break the bank for him. In fact, if Matt Hughes of the Times is to be believed, Chelsea offered just £5m, alongside presumably a one-year contract since that’s club policy for players over 30. That sure sounds reasonable to me, and perhaps sounded even reasonable to both Swansea and Llorente, who was in the final year of his contract there ... until Spurs swooped in of course.
But just how desperate were they to replace Vincent Janssen as their primary backup for Harry Kane? Apparently desperate enough to pay more than twice as much as Chelsea and offer a contract as least twice as long as Chelsea were probably going to offer. Spurs paid £11.5m (potentially rising to £15m) for the 32-year-old alongside a two-year contract with an option for a third. Not quite the bargain to match Spurs chairman Daniel Levy’s reputation...
Sure, £15m is nothing these days, but it’s still funny.
Llorente has played a grand total of 120 minutes so far this season. Batshuayi, who remains a long-term project at Chelsea, has played three times as much (361 minutes) and has even scored five goals, five more than his Spurs counterpart.