Fernando Llorente Tells Athletic Bilbao He Wants to Leave

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2012

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - MAY 08:  Fernando Llorente of Athletic Bilbao gestures during the Athletic Bilbao training session ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao at the National Arena on May 8, 2012 in Bucharest, Romania.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Highly coveted striker Fernando Llorente has informed that he desires a move away from Athletic Bilbao.

It's already been a very eventful last few months for the Basque club. Bilbao lost the Europa League final to Atletico Madrid back in May. Then, in early July, it looked as if manager Marcelo Bielsa had resigned on July 6th, only to do so a few days later.

However, there appears to be no way back for Llorente. AS is reporting that the striker has asked for a move to a Champions League club.

This is the worry among Bilbao supporters and the neutrals who enjoyed the club's run in the Europa League last year. That success incited other clubs to give a lot of attention to Bilbao's best players.

At the same time, Llorente, Iker Muniain, Javi Martinez and Markel Susaeta have all been the subject of transfer speculation. Llorente, though, is the first to go public with his desire to leave the San Mames.

He certainly can't be faulted for wanting to play in the Champions League.

At 27 years old, Llorente is at the peak of his powers. This is the best time he'll ever have to collect a hefty pay increase while also playing a significant role on a club competing at the highest level.

Another reason given in the AS article is a possible souring of the relationship between Bielsa and Llorente.

Bielsa is undoubtedly a world-class manager, but he is a bit eccentric. Despite the fact that most of his players will run through a wall for him, he's bound to rub some the wrong way.

If those rumors are in fact true, then there's almost no way Bilbao will be able to hold on to Llorente.

Juventus have to be considered as possible favorites. Despite winning Serie A last year, the Old Lady is in dire need of a striker.

They were scouting Llorente and Jefferson Farfan at a Europa League match last March.

Luis Suarez has signed a new contract with Liverpool, while Robin van Persie might prove a little too expensive.

Manchester City will also likely throw their hat in the ring, especially if their move for van Persie fails as well.

While no one can be sure where Llorente will be playing next season, you can almost count on it not being Athletic Bilbao.