Marcelo Bielsa has again left out Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez from his Athletic Bilbao team and reflects that any team would suffer losing the duo.
Both players have spent the past month as the subject of intense speculation regarding their future. Llorente has informed the club he won’t be renewing his contract, which has 12 months remaining on it, whilst Martinez has been the subject of a protracted bid from Bayern Munich.
The pair were invited back to the main group for training towards the end of the week, but after being excluded once more in yesterday afternoon’s session and today’s work, are not included in Bielsa’s squad to travel to Atletico Madrid on Monday.
“Llorente and Martinez did not train today because they were given the day off and they are not included,” Bielsa explained in today’s news conference.
“No project, except perhaps for those at Real Madrid and Barcelona, want not be weakened if players like Martinez and Llorente left.”
The Coach prepares to face Atletico this weekend, the team that defeated his side in last season’s Europa League final. However, he is not out for revenge.
“It isn’t a rematch. That means to reverse what has already happened and that is impossible.
“The thing that was decided in that game was much more important that what is at stake tomorrow.
“This meeting is of the utmost importance to us, but to think that winning tomorrow will erase what happened before is illogical.”
Bielsa confirmed the starting XI he intends to deploy on Monday night at the Vicente Calderon, with it being the same line-up that defeated HJK Helsinki 6-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.
Athletic probable XI to face Atletico: Iraizoz; Iraola, Gurpegui, San Jose, I.Perez; Iturraspe; Susaeta, De Marcos, Herrera, I. Lopez; Aduriz