Llorente won't renew Bilbao contract
Star striker Fernando Llorente has told Athletic Bilbao he will not be signing a new contract with the Primera Division side, club president Josu Urrutia has revealed.
The 27-year-old Llorente's current contract with Athletic runs out in June 2013 and Urrutia said he was informed last week by the player's representatives that the Spain international had decided he would not be renewing his deal. He said: "I conveyed my disappointment but they told me the decision was final."
According to Urrutia, Llorente's decision was not down to finances but to have the option to play in other leagues. He said at a press conference: "We talked to him last season and we made it clear how important it was he renewed his contract."
He added: "He told us that he was going to give an answer after the European Championship and 10 days ago I received a call from him and his agent telling us his decision was not to renew. Essentially there wasn't any economic reason, and what carried most weight was to take part in a different type of competition and with more possibilities of success."
The news is a huge blow to Athletic with the new Primera Division season beginning this weekend. It will also increase speculation about where Llorente might be playing his football in the coming campaign, with the powerful striker unlikely to be short of suitors.
Numerous clubs both in Spain and across Europe have been linked with Llorente in recent years, and media reports suggest Italian champions Juventus are currently heading the queue for the player.
However, Urrutia has warned interested parties that Athletic will not let their prized asset leave on the cheap this summer, even with just one year left in his contract.
Urrutia said: "I'm not talking with any other club because Athletic are not a selling club. To leave Athletic, the player must not want to stay with us and for the other clubs who want him to have to pay the clause in his contract.
"I continue wanting Fernando Llorente to stay here. In interviews he has said he wanted to stay. I think we have all done enough. It's not that we're throwing in the towel. It's that the decision that the player has given me is final."
If Llorente does remain at San Mames this season though, Urrutia hopes the striker will continue to give his all for the team. He said: "I hope that Llorente's performances will be like the ones he usually produces and that he scores many goals, like all the players I ask for them to be as professional as possible and helps us as much as they can."
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