City turn to Llorente after Ibrahimovich snub

Manchester City are reportedly prepared to abandon their pursuit of AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibramhimovic and are weighing up a move for Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente instead.

Roberto Mancini is desperate to add a frontman of European pedigree to his squad during the summer and had hoped to persuade Ibrahimovich to swap the San Siro for the Etihad Stadium.

However the Swedish international’s reluctance to leave the Serie A side has dashed Mancini’s hopes of pairing him with Sergio Aguero next season and is now expected to turn his attentions to Llorente according to a Squeaky Bum Time source.

The 27-year-old has emerged as the Italian’s primary target after a impressive campaign that saw him notch 29 goals as Bilbao reached the finals of the Europa League and Copa Del Rey.

A host of elite sides from around the continent have been linked with a move for the Spain international but Mancini is confident of beating off any other potential suitors.

With just a year left on his current contract it looks increasingly likely that Llorente will leave the San Mamés although City will have to meet the £28 million buy-out-clause if they want to attain his signature.

The Premier League champion financial muscle should end Arsenal’s interest in the striker after it was revealed they were monitoring developments with Robin Van Persie’s future shrouded in uncertainty.

Llorente – nicknamed El Rey León (The Lion King in in Spanish) – is currently with Vincente del Bosque’s Spain squad as they prepare to defend their European Championship crown in Poland and Ukraine this month.

It’s doubtful City will be able to speak to the player until after the tournament has concluded on July 1 although the possibility of opening preliminary talks with Bilbao are a possibility.

His arrival could spell the end for Edin Dzeko’s career in England with speculation linking him with a move to Bayern Munich last week.