The President of Athletic Bilbao made clear in Monday’s press conference his unwillingness to negotiate on a fee for the striker, who wants to leave the club before the upcoming season.
Athletic Bilbao Club President, Josu Urrutia. Photo: EITB
Athletic Bilbao will not allow Fernando Llorente - who has expressed his intention to leave – to go without a fight. Despite the striker’s desire to leave in time for the start of the next season, the club’s president has said he will not budge on the 36 million Euro (29 million Pound) buyout clause cited in his contract. Llorente was signed up to play for the club until June 2013.
President Josu Urrutia was talking at a press conference on Monday in which he confirmed that the striker had communicated his desire to leave the club on August 3rd. Urrutia explained the player’s reasons for not renewing his contract with Athletic were not economic but “a range of reasons of which the most important was the opportunity to play in different championships.” He added, “I let him know my disappointment.”
The president referred to the buyout clause in Llorente’s contract, which could mean any prospective club having to fork out up to 36 million Euros for the striker. However, Urrutia admitted that the player’s departure was a severe blow for the club: “it’s no consolation if they offer me twelve, or four or sixteen million (Euros).”
According to unconfirmed reports, Llorente was requesting 5.5 million Euros to renew his contract, a million over what he received last year.
Spanish media have reported that Llorente was poised to join Italian champions Juventus.
The burly forward, known to adoring Bilbao fans as "the lion king" because of his thick mane of golden hair, came through Bilbao's youth academy before making his first-team debut in January 2005.
He netted 17 goals in 32 league appearances for Bilbao last season and scored seven in 15 games in European competition as the Basque club reached the final of the Europa League before losing to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.