Spain striker Fernando Llorente has confirmed he plans to leave Athletic Bilbao when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The 27-year-old turned down the offer of a new deal and said he wanted to move on over the summer, but the Basque outfit refused to negotiate with potential suitors and hoped to change the player’s mind.
However, Llorente, who has spent a large chunk of the current Primera Division season on the bench due to the issue, today announced at a press conference that his decision was final.
“Yes, I’m leaving on June 30,” he said. “I want to try other things.”
Asked whether his decision was irreversible, he replied: ``Yes. I made it when I played my first match at San Mames in the Europa League (against Slaven Koprivnica on August 2).''
Llorente – Athletic’s top scorer last term with 17 league goals – said the press were partly to blame for his departure, accusing them of turning sections of the club’s fans against him.
“Let it be clearly stated – it is not an economic issue,” he said. “Athletic’s offer was irresistible.
“The press has not really helped my renewal. It is one of the reasons that bad feeling has been generated towards me on the field (from the fans), and that’s what has prompted me to not renew. That, along with many other things.
“You (the media) have not helped because most of what has come out in the press has been lies, but people have tipped the balance against me.
“That has come out on the field, with people blowing their whistles. It is (only) a section that wants me out, I respect that. I feel loved by most of the Athletic fans.”