Fernando Llorente has confirmed that he will definitely leave Athletic Bilbao next summer and he has explained why.
The striker informed the club over the summer of his desire to not renew his contract beyond its expiry of June 2013.
Whilst he was initially frozen out of first-team measures, his gradual reintegration into the team since the close of the summer transfer window and club President Josu Urrutia’s words had prompted speculation that one of his options next summer would in fact be to perform a U-turn and stay at San Mames.
However, in asserting that the Press played their part in worsening the situation, Llorente has confirmed in his first Press conference of the season at the Lezama training complex that he is definitely leaving.
“Let’s be clear that it is not an economic decision. Athletic’s offer was irresistible. The Press has not really helped my renewal, they are one of the reasons for the bad feelings on the pitch and that is what has prompted me to not renew. That, along with many other things,” the World Cup winner told reporters today.
“The negotiations had been very long and from the beginning I did not want anything to come out, that is not something I can blame Athletic for.
“You [the media] have not helped because most of what has come out through the Press has been lies, but people have tipped the balance against me.
“That has generated itself on to the field and they whistle me. There is a section of the fans that do not want me, I respect that, but I feel loved by most of the supporters.
“I have no say in what you should write. What you have gotten, though, is from the fans who are against me and want me to go.
“Is the decision firm? Yes, I took that decision when I played my first match at San Mames in the Europa League [against Slaven Koprivnica on August 2] and I saw this whole situation that had derived.
“That made me sad and I decided not to renew. I also want to try other things. I have been European and world champion, I have played for years at a high level.”
Llorente, however, could again captain the team in the Europa League this week, with Coach Marcelo Bielsa expected to ring the changes around him.
“If I am, it would be wonderful, I will love it. Hopefully we can play a good game, as we did in Israel, and leave with a good feeling from the game that will be useful for the weekend game with Celta.
“It is not a decisive game, but we’re going with everything because this will be no friendly.
“I am looking forward to it, I have no fear for the bad reception from the crowd. The support will be sensational for the game. We have to do our part to get them going for the game and enjoy it.”
Back on to his contract situation, the player was asked if he agreed with FIFPro’s assertion that Athletic had blackmailed him into signing a new deal by not playing him.
“Not at all. I heard about this but have nothing more to say, I do not feel blackmailed by Athletic. The only thing I care about is being in the best state possible to give everything for the team.
“I feel the support of my colleagues, which is very important. I demonstrate that I am with them until the end.
“I am prepared to play every game from now until June 30, when my contract runs out. What happens after that you may talk about, but I will not say anything because I am focused on the team.
“I have spoken with Bielsa, but that is between him and me.”