On Friday, Swansea City announced the signing of Spanish international Fernando Llorente on a free transfer from Europa League winners Sevilla. Manager Francesco Guidolin has since confirmed that the club will also sign Spanish striker Borja Baston from Atletico Madrid.
After scoring only 42 league goals and getting only eight from strikers last season, Swansea will be hoping those two will be able to score enough goals to keep them away from the bottom three this season.
Ever since selling Wilfried Bony to Manchester City in January of 2015, Swansea City have had problems at striker. Bafetimi Gomis was the natural replacement for Bony. The Frenchman started last season with four goals in four games, but after that he seriously fell off and scored only two goals in his next 29 league appearances, 14 of which were starts.
After it was clear that the Swans needed reinforcements, they brought in Italian striker Alberto Paloschi from Chievo for around £8m during the January transfer window. The Italian never really settled into life at the Liberty scoring only two league goals in 669 minutes.
Gomis has since been loaned to Marseille for the season and Paloschi has returned to Italy. With those two gone, Swansea have turned to an ageing World Cup winner in Llorente and the younger less proven Baston.
Llorente found opportunities hard to come by at Sevilla and ended up playing only a 1165 league minutes last season. As a result, he ended up missing out on Spain’s Euro 2016 squad. Already 31 years of age, the 2018 World Cup may be Llorente’s last chance at another international tournament. He’ll hope Swansea can fix his lack of minutes problem and Swansea will hope he can help fix their striker problems.
Looking at Llorente’s goal scoring numbers for the last two seasons and they actually look strikingly similar to Gomis’. The Spaniard has a slight edge in terms of non penalty goals with 0.32 in 2014/2015 and 0.31 in 2015/2016 compared to Gomis’ 0.26 last season.
In terms of shots, the Frenchman actually holds an edge of nearly 0.8 of a shot over his replacement. Although their numbers for shots inside the box are about the same. Looking at their creative numbers, Llorente held a slight edge, although nothing that is going to be game changing for Swansea.
While Llorente’s recent numbers are nothing to shout about, but the hope will be that he can recreate the form he showed a few years ago when he was the main man at Athletic Bilbao. In his last two full seasons there in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 (he was technically there the entire 2012/2013 season, but he was in the doghouse because he refused to sign a contract extension and made only four league starts) he scored a very impressive 0.51 non penalty goals per 90 minutes and 0.68 non penalty goals per 90 minutes. Swansea will be hoping Llorente can recreate some of that form at the Liberty.
Baston is closer to the other end of his career. The striker turns 24 at the end of August and will leave Atletico Madrid permanently after joining them at the age of four. However Baston spent most of his Atletico career on loan and only made one senior appearance for them. Apparently tired of being repeatedly farmed out, the striker is now leaving Madrid for good.
Baston was repeatedly loaned to teams in the Spanish second division, but last year he was loaned to Eibar in the top division and thrived. He scored 0.52 non penalty goals per 90 minutes. His shot numbers were actually quite similar to Llorente’s and Gomis’ with 2.6 shots per 90 minutes and 2.1 shots inside the penalty box per 90 minutes.
After a year and a half of struggling with strikers Swansea will hope they have adequately addressed that problem for this season. Whether it’s Baston or Llorente a consistent goalscorer could help Swansea avoid that terrifying prospect of a relegation fight this season.