Llorente: I had doubts, but…

Fernando Llorente has reflected on his adaptation to life in Italy and what he sees as the differences between Athletic Bilbao and Juventus in training.

The Spaniard endured an indifferent first few weeks to his career with the Bianconeri, amid rumours that he was not settling in and that Coach Antonio Conte did not rate him.

However, in responding with improved form of late, including goals in both Champions League games against Real Madrid, the 28-year-old is feeling rejuvenated.

“I had the fortune of getting the chance to play when I was finally finding my form again, then the injuries to Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella helped,” mused Llorente to the Gazzetta dello Sport this week.

“I was given a few games, minutes and the more I played the better I felt. I found my rhythm even if I had a few problems at the beginning adjusting to the mentality.

“I was in good shape when I arrived for pre-season, I felt strong, but my body was not used to so much work and at one stage in America I felt empty, totally rundown.

“If the body doesn’t work then your mind reacts as a consequence and I started to have doubts.”

Llorente arrived in Turin after seeing out his contract with Athletic Bilbao. The striker reflected on the differences he has noted in training.

“At Athletic Bilbao I worked under Marcelo Bielsa, who is obsessed with football and we ended up with double training sessions of three hours each, but it was more mental intensity than physical.

“There were long breaks between one season and the next, but in that year we focused in a single movement.

“Bielsa empties you emotionally, we spent hours on the field and only had a short time to relax, to disconnect.

“The training at Juventus is totally different to what it was at Athletic Bilbao. You never get a break and my body couldn’t take it.

“I moved forward by working and because I felt the faith of everyone. Then, evidently, my body was able to switch, let us say that it accepted the radical changes and I started again. The rest arrived from games.

“I didn’t want to leave, but I was disappointed because being the last choice striker is mortifying. The important thing was to not let my head drop and to keep fighting, working hard as I think hard work always pays.

“Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane suffered initially at Juventus, then I knew that Serie A was different, that getting used to it would take time and be a struggle. It’s harder to score in Italy, you often defend with five.”

Tags Bielsa Juventus Llorente Spain