By Harry Sykes
Fernando Llorente has revealed that a last-minute Mauricio Pochettino call convinced him to join Tottenham instead of Chelsea.
Llorente, 32, looked set to be reunited with Antonio Conte, his manager for three years at Juventus, but Spurs gazumped the champions to sign the World Cup winner.
Spurs’ last-minute swoop won the race to prise Llorente Swansea in a deal worth around £12 million hours before the transfer window closed.
“The truth is that Chelsea have been after me for a long time but at the end you know how this works,” Llorente told Spanish outlet La Vanguardia after making his Spurs debut as a substitute in Wednesday’s 3-1 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund.
“At the very last minute, Pochettino called me and convinced me.
“The Tottenham project is impressive. They have done very well in the last few years, and I think I fit very well with this project. I think I can help them a lot.”
Llorente has joined Spurs after an impressive spell at Swansea, where he scored 15 goals in 35 matches in his one season following a £6million transfer from Sevilla.
He was similarly effective at Juventus and boyhood club Athletic Bilbao, where his form led to his Spain call-up and the first of 24 international caps.
A 19-year-old Llorente played against Pochettino on his senior debut in January 2005, making his first appearance for Athletic Bilbao in a draw with Espanyol.
The striker added to La Vanguardia: “It is clear that Pochettino played a very important role in the decision. I have known him since he was playing in Spain.
“I made my first-team debut against him at San Mames. He was at the end of his playing career and I was at the beginning of mine.
“Then he was the Espanyol manager and I faced him several more times. Now I play under him at Tottenham and I really want to give my best.”
In other Tottenham transfer news, a speed machine is to agree a deal after a £25million bid from Spurs.