Serie A - Juventus close in on Llorente

Juventus appear set to win the race to sign Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente when his contract expires in the summer.

"Juventus Football Club informed Athletic Club on January 3 that, knowing Fernando Llorente will end his stint at our club on June 30, 2013, they will begin negotiations with the player to incorporate him into their squad," Bilbao said in a statement on their website.

Llorente, a tall and powerful forward known as "the Lion King" for his mane of blond hair, has barely featured for Bilbao since making his intention to leave known to the Basque club.

A product of their youth academy, the Pamplona-born 27-year-old made his debut for the first team in 2005 and has scored 115 goals in 317 appearances over nine seasons.

He has a market value of 30 million euros, according to transfermarkt, which tracks deals for football players.

Llorente had been linked with Premier League sides Arsenal and Tottenham, and had confirmed last week that he fully intends to seek pastures new when his deal runs out.

Juve are exercising their right to speak to the player now he has less than six months left on his current contract.