BY DAN KARELL
Spanish forward Fernando Llorente is set to become a free agent this summer, but he might not wind up waiting that long to leave Athletic Bilbao for a new club.
Athletic have announced that Llorente has entered contract negotiations with Italian champions Juventus on a contract ahead of a potential winter transfer move.
Llorente has fallen out of favor with Athletic Bilbao since refusing to sign a new contract with the Spanish first division club. He has barely played this season.
Juventus is trying to beat big spenders like Manchester City and Tottenham to the punch by signing him in January to hopefully give the Turin club a reliable goal scorer. Juve has struggled to find a forward to provide a consistent threat.
Here are some other stories to get your Thursday started:
COLE SET FOR WEST HAM AS BENYOUN RETURNS TO CHELSEA
In the wake of the Daniel Sturridge transfer to Liverpool and the Demba Ba transfer to Chelsea, Joe Cole, currently on the books at Liverpool, is heading back to his former club West Ham for a fee of around £3 million while Yossi Benayoun is leaving the Hammers to rejoin Chelsea.
Cole has only made six substitute appearances for Liverpool this season, after spending last season on loan with Lille in Ligue 1, playing alongside Eden Hazard, now on London rivals Chelsea.
Cole is due to have his medical today, and if he signs before Noon on Friday he’ll be available for this weekend’s FA Cup match against Manchester United.
Benayoun returns to Chelsea after an injury-hit loan spell with West Ham that saw him make just six appearance for the East London club.
“MAZA” RETURNS TO MEXICO WITH CLUB AMERICA
Francisco Rodriguez, also known as “Maza”, has completed his transfer to Club America in Liga MX from German club VFB Stuttgart.
The Mexican center back has played for El Tri in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and is arriving just in time for the Clausura Tournament, where he will go up against his old club, Chivas Guadalajara.
Rodriguez first moved abroad in 2008 with a move to PSV Eindhoven in Holland, before moving to Stuttgart in 2011.
DEMBA BA NEARLY SIGNED, SEALED, AND DELIVERED
Following last night’s 2-1 defeat to Everton, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew admitted that Demba Ba was sold, and gave the striker his blessing to move on.
The Senegalese goal-scorer has been in negotiations with Chelsea since the weekend, and it was announced yesterday via a club statement that the two clubs had agreed on a transfer fee, and the deal could be processed.
Ba is due for a medical with Chelsea today at their team headquarters in London.
Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli were allegedly involved in a training ground scuffle, which could be the last straw that signals the end of Balotelli’s time in Manchester. (REPORT)
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp is interested in signing free-agent Israeli international defender Tal Ben-Haim. (REPORT)
Enrique Cerezo, president of Spanish club Atletico de Madrid, believes star striker Radamel Falcao’s next destination will be their cross-town rivals, Real Madrid. (REPORT)
Former Inter Milan striker Adriano says he is back training and wants to return to play football in 2013. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Think Llorente could be a star at Juve? What kind of impact do you see Maza having with Club America? Think Balotelli’s days in Manchester are numbered?
Share your thoughts below.