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OnScene at Huddersfield vs. Newcastle

Premier League

Athletic hope Llorente will stay

Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia says he is hopeful that centre-forward Fernando Llorente will sign a new contract and continue to play a leading role at the club in the future.

Llorente, 27, was strongly linked with a move to Serie A champions Juventus in the summer and sees his future away from Bilbao, but Urrutia said he still believed the situation could change before the Spain international's current deal runs out next summer.

"Nobody knows what will happen over the season," he said. "Among us all, maybe we can make him change his mind."

Llorente has yet to feature for Athletic this season, and had been training apart from the first-team squad with Javi Martinez until the latter moved to Bayern Munich last week. The pair were booed and whistled by groups of supporters at the club's Lezama training facility last month.

Urrutia said he hoped Llorente could now be re-integrated into Marcelo Bielsa's first XI, saying: "We want him to give the same or better performances than last season. I believe we can generate a better situation and an atmosphere where he and the rest of the team can play to their maximum."

Juventus reportedly offered €20 million for Llorente during this summer's window - well short of his release clause fee of €36 million - while speculation in the Spanish media suggested Barcelona could be interested in signing him on a free transfer next year.

But Urrutia said he had not spoken to any club about a deal, insisting: "There is no negotiation possible for players we are interested in keeping. I do not listen to offers for someone I do not want to sell."

Although the Spanish transfer window officially shut on Friday, Athletic were given an extra month to sign players under a Spanish FA regulation that helps teams replace a player bought out of his contract.

Reports in Bilbao suggest that the first slice of the €40 million paid by Bayern to activate Martinez's release clause could be spent on Malaga left-back Nacho Monreal.


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