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Sep 21, 2012

Bielsa pleased with Llorente impact

Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa praised Fernando Llorente after the centre-forward made his first home appearance of the season in Thursday's 1-1 Europa League draw against Hapoel Kiryat Shmona.

With last season's finalists struggling to break down the Israeli champions, Llorente - strongly linked with a summer move away from the club - was introduced at half-time to a mixture of cheers and whistles.

He led an onslaught on the visitors' goal that brought multiple chances but no winner, and the Athletic coach said he was happy with the display.

"Llorente had ten goal chances," he told reporters. "That is a convincing number for a forward, but that is his job. It is good that he produced, even though he did not score.

"How do you judge an attacker who creates ten goal chances even when none lead to a goal? I am looking at the positive side."

Llorente reportedly turned down a new contract offer during the summer and appeared to be angling for a move to Juventus.

After scoring as a substitute in Sunday's 3-3 La Liga draw at Espanyol, he hinted that a move to Turin could still happen next year, but Bielsa said he did not feel this uncertainty would affect the Spain international's performances in the matches to come.

"He played his natural game," he said. "I have already given my opinion that the current situation was not going to affect him."

Llorente wold not address questions about his future, saying only: "I need to keep working. The most important thing is not the future, but to help the team."

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