Fernando Llorente told his bosses at Athletic Bilbao that he would not be signing a new contract in the summer, which immediately put a number of clubs, including Arsenal, on alert. With his contract due to end in less than a year, the Spanish international striker thought the club would listen to offers for him but they refused point blank, while selling his team mate Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich.
There were accusations between the club and the player about false stories being planted in the press, and Llorente became a target of abuse from his own fans. The situation was even stranger because despite refusing to sell the striker, the manager refused to play him, and the two ended up having a bust up during training.
Llorente started his first league game of the season, and spoke to the press about his determination to do well for the club, but this is not, as some people think, a turnaround in the situation. Llorente was picked because the normal front man was suspended and the manager had little choice. The club had accused him earlier in the week of refusing to do a press conference, when Llorente was already attending a pre-arranged TV interview. The 27-year old has spent his whole career at Bilbao, however, and still wants them to do well.
“I do not care what might happen, I do not think beyond that. The only future I think about now is giving everything for the Athletic.
“At the time (last season) I was playing a lot of games, I was happy. Confidence and trust makes the most of you.
“Currently, the fact that I am not playing continually means I am perhaps lacking the confidence to put some goals away.
“I have to forget what has happened and I just have to keep working.”
Even though Llorente says he wants to help his club by scoring goals he says `when` not `if` he leaves. If the club digs it’s heels in again in January then he will leave for free in the summer. It would be better for him if he plays, but if not then at least he won’t get injured.
“Hopefully I can get a few goals by the end, the more the merrier, and leave the team as high in the table as possible.”