Even before, but especially after the bust-up between striker Diego Costa and the training staff and physios in January, Chelsea had been looking to bring in Fernando Llorente from Swansea City.
The Spaniard, who had already worked with head coach Antonio Conte for a year at Juventus, was supposedly eager for a reunion, but was eventually convinced by Swans to stay and help them stave off relegation, with the assumed understanding that he would be allowed to move on in the summer. It was also assumed that Chelsea would be the destination and the Blues were linked early and fairly often at the start of the summer (with the Chelsea-future of Michy Batshuayi hanging in the balance).
A broken arm delayed things, but a transfer did finally materialize on deadline day ... except it wasn’t to Chelsea, but rather to Spurs instead. Gazumped again!
As with most things in football, Llorente’s decision was a combination of factors, though he largely credits Pochettino’s project, whatever that means.
"The truth is that Chelsea have been after me for a long time but at the end you know how this works. At the very last minute Pochettino called me and convinced me [to join Tottenham]. The Tottenham project is impressive. They have done very well in the last few years and I think I fit very well with this project. I think I can help them a lot. "
"I'm very happy because at the end everything came out perfect. Tottenham are an amazing club with a wonderful project and I think I fit in very well. I want to put my contribution on it and hopefully I can score many goals to help the club to achieve their targets.”
“Pochettino was someone very important, without doubt. I knew him from when I was in Spain. There, in what is a nice story, I made my debut against him [for Athletic Bilbao against Espanyol] at San Mames. He was at the end of his career and I was at the start of mine. "
"Later, he was manager of Espanyol and I was an Athletic player, and we competed against each other various other times. Now I'm at his service for Spurs, and I really want to give him my best.”
-Fernando Llorente; Source: The Independent
Unmentioned by Llorente is the financial factor, which in reality may have been the biggest reason for his decision to dump Conte for Poche. While Chelsea may have offered him only a one-year deal — as is our custom with every player already over 30 years of age — Spurs gave him a two-year contract with an option for a third depending on how many games he plays. Assuming wages were comparable, the 32-year-old Llorente went for (financial) security rather than trophies, which is a fair choice to make — especially in a career as short as that of a typical footballer.
In any case, we hope Llorente enjoys his project of getting paid to watch Harry Kane score lots of goals. Meanwhile, hopefully Michy steps up to become as useful as we all assumed Llorente would’ve been at Chelsea.