• La Liga

Athletic Bilbao vow to hang on to Llorente

ESPN staff
December 18, 2012
Fernando Llorente has made it clear he wants to leave © Getty Images

Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia has reiterated that the club will not be selling wantaway striker Fernando Llorente during the January transfer window.

Llorente, 27, revealed last month that he would not be signing a new contract with Athletic once his current deal runs out at the end of the season.

Now the Primera Division club, who are attempting to recover from a poor start to the season, look set to lose him on a free transfer, which will alert a host of clubs across Europe including Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.

"I've a feeling these decisions will not please everyone, but I think they are the most beneficial for Athletic," Urrutia told reporters. "We've taken our decision and at the moment we're sticking to it.

"He's an important player, he's shown that, and the team is more competitive with him. We hope that he continues to score important goals from now until the end of the season.''

Llorente was the joint-leading Spanish goalscorer in La Liga last season with 17 goals but has only played a bit-part role this term following his decision to leave the Basque outfit.

As a result, Athletic won two of their opening nine Primera Division matches and were knocked out of the Europa League - a competition they finished runners-up in last season - at the group stage.

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