Spanish national team striker Fernando Llorente has been with Athletic Bilbao since 2005.
Spanish national team striker Fernando Llorente has been with Athletic Bilbao since 2005.
Alvaro Barrientos/AP

Athletic Bilbao and Spain striker Fernando Llorente is poised to sign for Juventus in July, the Serie A leaders' sporting director said on Monday.

The Italian champions have long been searching for a main striker and talks with Bilbao and Llorente have been going on for weeks with the option of signing the 27-year-old in January now unlikely.

"I'm optimistic on his contract. In any case, he will join Juve on July 1," Juve sporting director Beppe Marotta told Italian radio.

Llorente, a tall and powerful forward known as "the Lion King" for his mane of blond hair, has barely featured for Bilbao since announcing his intention to leave when his contract ends in June.

Juve are still being linked in Italian media with a January move for Shanghai Shenhua's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba as they look to shore up their title charge after a stuttering start to the year.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.