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Aug 20, 2012

Llorente 'happy to stay' at Athletic

Spanish international forward Fernando Llorente says he is "happy to play for Athletic Bilbao", despite saying he will not sign a new contract, but admits he does not know where his future lies.

Llorente, 27, has entered the last year of his contract and has expressed his desire to move elsewhere, making clear he has no interest in renewing his deal at the Basque club. Serie A champions Juventus have been closely linked with a move for the Spanish international, but on Monday he confirmed that he may remain at San Mamés.

The powerful striker scored 30 goals last season to help Bilbao reach the final of the Europa League but has since fallen out with manager Marco Bielsa. Despite having a release clause of €36 million, Llorente is likely to leave for far less than that this summer, due to his dwindling contract and his determination to leave the Basque club.

Llorente told ItaSportPress.it: "I do not know of talks about me. Right now I just think about my team. I am happy to play for Athletic Bilbao because I feel an important player here & am happy to continue here. My renewal? Let's see."

The striker was left out of Athletic Bilbao's squad for Sunday's season opener against Real Betis, further intensifying speculation over his expected departure, while the club's fans have also expressed their disdain regarding Llorente's decision to abandon the club.

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