Fans and observers of soccer can be quick to judge whether or not something is working out. This was the case with Fernando Llorente and his early start as a player for Juventus, as many had already concluded that Llorente was a failure given his slow start with the reigning Serie A champions.
Yet in the last three weeks, Llorente has begun to begin showing why his services were wanted by several of Europe’s top clubs.
In the last week, Llorente scored the equalizing goal for Juventus in their 2-2 draw against Real Madrid in Champions League to keep Juventus’ chance to advance into the Round of 16. On Sunday, Llorente rounded up a fine week as he scored the opening goal in a 3-0 league win for over SSC Napoli in a clash that pitted two of the three best teams in Serie A so far this 2013-14 season.
Aside from scoring goals, Llorente has also begun to play better in terms of his link-up play with fellow strikers, particularly with Carlos Tevez. Llorente’s improvement should be no surprise to anyone, but the fact is that it is probably catching many doubters by surprise. The truth of the matter is that it was always going to take Llorente some time to settle in as a Juventus player.
First and foremost, Llorente spent the last eight months of his playing career with Athletic Bilbao during the 2012-13 season, having been frozen out when Llorente made it clear that he would not be renewing his contract with the club he had played since a youth player. While he ended up playing 26 league games, the vast majority of them where cameo substitute appearances, meaning Llorente played 10 minutes at most.
As a result, this meant that he was lacking full-match fitness and sharpness coming into the 2013-14 season and he needed time to rediscover it for him to excel.
Additionally, Llorente joined a Juventus team who play a style which is predicated on constant running and movement, something he needed to adjust to. This meant that Juventus coach Antonio Conte was going to bring him along slowly until he knew Llorente could be let loose and be counted on as a regular.
Llorente’s play in recent weeks is a testament to that fact as he clearly is playing like the target man many expected him to be for Juventus, despite many of these same people jumping the gun and declaring that his early reign as a Juventus player was a failure.