As part of our Transfer Targets series, we turn our attention to Spain to assess the chances of five of the biggest stars in La Liga moving to the Premier League in January.
By Adam Bate and Lucas Brown
Last Updated: 21/12/12 12:54pm
Llorente was a Basque hero back in the spring and nearly spearheaded Athletic Bilbao to their maiden European triumph in the Europa League final in May. But Marcelo Bielsa and his dictatorial demands have taken their toll on the Primera Liga outfit this season and the 27-year-old finds himself on the periphery at San Mames.
Although the striker recently claimed he is not thinking about his future, the fact that he has no intention of signing a new deal with Bilbao means it is simply a question of whether a transfer happens in January or the summer. The club say they have no plans to sell in the winter window but money could yet talk when the bids start to come in.
Sky Sports' Spanish expert Lucas Brown says: "Athletic's former crowd favourite fell from his perch after demanding a transfer in the summer and has rarely featured for Marcelo Bielsa's team this season. Llorente's contract expires in June and the club could be tempted to earn something from his departure by accepting a bid in January."
He is the hottest property in world football right now and Chelsea appear keen to position themselves at the front of the queue. Blues defender David Luiz has even spoken out to urge Roman Abramovich to sign the Colombian striker and the Russian billionaire is likely to test Atletico's resolve in the January transfer window.
The player himself claims he is happy in Madrid but his future remains uncertain. The 26-year-old has admitted that he wants another challenge one day but the timing of the move could be dictated by his club, with Atletico president Enrique Cerezo expected to demand a huge fee given that he recently argued that Falcao is the best striker on the planet.
Sky Sports' Spanish expert Lucas Brown says: "The Colombian striker has shone this season with and attracted great interest throughout the opening half of the campaign, continuing where he left off last term. Los Colchoneros and the player are both unlikely to want to part during the winter window and are expected to wait until the summer to listen to offers."
|La Liga top scorers 2012/13|
|RADAMEL FALCAO||ATLETICO MADRID||17|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||14|
|Aritz Aduriz||Athletic Bilbao||10|
|Ruben Castro||Real Betis||9|
The former world player of the year has been something of a disappointment at the Bernabeu given the lofty expectations upon his arrival and he remains in and out of the side under Jose Mourinho. The Brazilian maintains he wants to win trophies with Real and has three years remaining on his deal.
But the club would surely be keen to offload Kaka's considerable wages and talks over the player's future are ongoing. Galatasaray appear willing to offer the 30-year-old attacking midfielder another challenge in Turkey but English clubs will also be monitoring the situation.
Sky Sports' Spanish expert Lucas Brown says: "After another period out of favour with Jose Mourinho, the Brazilian has stated that he is waiting until January before seeing whether or not he is wanted by Real Madrid. It would not take much persuading either Madrid or Kaka to make a move and England could be a tempting destination for the fallen star."
Gago had the option to move to England in the summer of 2011 but instead opted to make a loan move to Roma. Eighteen months on and the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League could finally prove tempting for the Argentine midfielder.
Of course, Valencia remain in the UEFA Champions League and that could hinder a deal but finances at the Spanish club are not what they were and, with Manchester City reportedly interested in the 26-year-old, transfer activity next month cannot be ruled out.
Sky Sports' Spanish expert Lucas Brown says: "When coach Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked by Valencia, the Argentina international demanded a move away from Mestalla and the cash-strapped club could be willing to sell their defensive midfielder. Any January change would depend on the size of the fee on offer to Valencia and the wages offered to the player."
It wasn't so long ago that Villa was regarded as the finest forward in the business but a cruel leg break robbed the Spain international of a role at Euro 2012 and with the ex-Valencia man now 31 there is a suspicion that his best days are behind him.
Even so, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova singled out Villa for praise earlier this month and the Catalan giants are unlikely to weaken their squad mid-season - whatever the extraordinary rumours of January interest from Swansea.
Sky Sports' Spanish expert Lucas Brown says: "Spain's star striker has struggled to settle at Camp Nou and having now recovered from an injury that saw him miss six months of last season Villa has found himself up against stiff competition for a place in the first team. A move in January is unlikely, but a summer exit does look on the cards."