Chelsea Transfer News: Llorente, Huntelaar and Cardozo Linked in the Blues' Striker Hunt

 @JasonLeMiere
on October 05 2012 1:08 PM
Fernando Llorente
Fernando Llorente's future at Athletic Bilbao appears increasingly precarious. Reuters

Chelsea have been linked with a trio of front men as they are believed to be stepping up their search for a striker. Fernando Torres has started every game so far this season, with Chelsea’s only other established striker, Daniel Sturridge, being sidelined with injury for several weeks.

It was a surprise to many that the Blues did not reinforce that area of their squad during the summer, following the departure of Didier Drogba.

Recent speculation has suggested that Chelsea are determined to sign prolific Atletico Madrid front man Radamel Falcao. But with Falcao set to cost in excess of €40 million, if he can be pried away from Atletico at all, reports in recent days have thrown up some further names who may be in the frame.

A considerably less expensive option than the much-sought after Colombian appears to be Fernando Llorenete.  The Spain international’s contract is due to expire next summer and he has shown little willingness to extend his deal.

Llorente’s stance has led to a falling out with the club and its fans and a video recently surfaced of him appearing to have a training ground bust-up with manager Marcelo Bielsa.

The Daily Mail claims that Chelsea are one of a number of clubs interested in securing Llorente on a reduced fee in January, although Juventus appear favorites.

However, Llorente’s agent has suggested that all options still remain open.

"In the summer he wanted to join Juventus but Athletic Bilbao did not want to sell him for less than his release clause," it was explained to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport.

"Italy in January? Why not? It is a great championship and Fernando would like to play there. Juventus are a great team, but so are Inter, AC Milan, Manchester City and so on. We will see what happens."

A similar cut-price deal could also be pursued for Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Netherlands international’s contract is also due to expire next summer and his agent has revealed that Huntelaar will take his time to ponder his future plans.

Chelsea are monitoring the situation with a view to making their approach in the next transfer window, according to TalkSport.

The 29-year-old former Milan and Real Madrid striker finished as top scorer in the Bundesliga last season and has scored five goals in all competitions so far during this campaign.

Another contract dispute is said to be encouraging Chelsea in their reported pursuit of another free-scoring striker.

Oscar Cardozo has been suggested as a Chelsea target for some time and TalkSport now claims that the Paraguayan’s contract demands are delaying a new deal with Benfica. While the 29-year-old’s contract isn’t due to expire until the summer of 2014, the Lisbon giants may be tempted to cash in on their asset in the near future.  Although, following the sale of Axel Witsel for around €50 million (£40m) to Zenit St Petersburg, it is doubtful that Benfica are in any immediate need for revenue.

Cardozo hit 20 goals in the league last year and also impressed in Benfica’s run to the quarterfinals of the Champions League where they exited to Chelsea. This season the former Newell’s Old Boys star has begun in similarly impressive form, netting four times in as many league appearances.

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