Llorente: I’d have chosen my country

Fernando Llorente says he would not have made the same decision as Diego Costa, whilst acknowledging the increased competition he brings to Spain.

The Brazilian-born Atletico Madrid man has opted to play for La Roja ahead of his country of birth and was set to debut for the Seleccion this international break before a thigh injury.

For Llorente, who benefited from his withdrawal to return to the squad in his place, the difficulty of getting to the World Cup has now increased.

“With the start so strong that he has had, it is amazing,” the Juventus man has told AS in an interview released today.

“By choosing Spain, it puts the rest of the forwards on alert and it is now much more difficult to get into the team.

“He spent several years in Spain watching this team play and every player would like to play on this team and Diego Costa has that opportunity, has demonstrated himself at a high level, whilst he has also chosen to play for Spain.

“In that situation I would have chosen my country, but each case is different.

“I’m glad to be back [with Spain]. It was not easy, my last year. The change for me has been very good because I have signed for a great team that will help me grow a lot.”

Llorente is with a Spain squad returning to Johannesburg this week to face South Africa at Soccer City, the stadium where they lifted the 2010 World Cup.

“Being with the national team is amazing. They play where they play and we are delighted and eager always to go out there at a high level.

“Returning to South Africa is wonderful. We have many unforgettable memories. Winning our first World Cup there is the greatest thing we have experienced.” 

Llorente endured an uneasy start to life in Serie A since a summer Bosman move from Athletic Bilbao, but believes his work under Marcelo Bielsa at San Mames made his adaptation to Antonio Conte’s demands easier.

“The way of Bielsa is not like a Spanish trainer. Bielsa was an intermediate step that helped me to prepare a lot for what I have found in Italy.

“If I had not had Bielsa, I would have had a much harder adaptation to the work in Italy. Until I adapted, I could not find a good physical condition.

“I feel better now. But my best is still to come. I still face games to play to reach the top.”

It was put to the 28-year-old, who took part of the interview in Italian, that Carlo Tevez was not regularly passing to him for the Bianconeri…

“We have played a few matches together. He is a great player and I think that we can improve in playing together. I am comfortable playing alongside Tevez.”

Tags Brazil Diego Costa Juventus Llorente Spain