Athletic Bilbao sporting director Jose Amorrortu has admitted that he has been ‘personally affected’ by the situation surrounding Fernando Llorente.
The 27-year-old has been linked with a transfer out of Bilbao, after refusing to renew his contract, as a host of European outfits now reportedly vie for his signature.
“Llorente is ours, and the current situation regarding him has affected me personally,” claimed the former Bilbao midfielder ahead of the club’s participation in the NextGen youth competition.
Amorrortu was directly involved at the beginning of the burly striker’s career, as he convinced an 11-year-old Llorente to sign for Athletic despite offers from Barcelona and Espanyol.
“I was involved with him from the start, so you can only imagine how it is affecting me. I genuinely hope he remains with us, as he is a huge star. The situation is undetermined at the moment.”
Italian champions Juventus the currently thought to be the frontrunners to sign Llorente, but are reluctant to meet the €35m asking price.
“Things will take their course internally,” continued the Basque club’s director.
“We are very sensitive to the situation, and are only trying to do what is best for the club. Respecting the position we will have to look out for a forward within our ranks, as we are proud of our Basque tradition.”
Amorrortu has always been a champion of youth and insisted that the academy is where Llorente will be replaced from should he leave either this year or next.