By Chris Wright
There was a time, not so very long ago, when Fernando Llorente could do no wrong at Athletic Bilbao. Such was his godliness, Llorente could’ve skinned and butchered a live, orphaned kitten in the middle of the San Mames pitch before every match and the good people of Bilbao would’ve probably complimented him on his imperious knife skills.
Sadly for him, those days are now gone. After a turbulent few months regarding his future at the club, the relationship between Llorente and his coach, Marcelo Bielsa is pretty much a non-entity, with reports of in-fighting and squabbles now an almost weekly occurrence – the latest installment coming but yesterday morning.
Already out of favour, on the bench and forced to train with the Bilbao reserve and youth strings, Llorente walked out of Monday morning’s training session at Lezama after another ‘heated debate’ with Bielsa.
This from ESPN:
“In an incident filmed by Basque TV station EITB, Bielsa halted a practice game to criticise what he had seen.
“After an exchange of views, Llorente walked off the pitch alone, and the session finished without him. The Spanish international later left the training ground without speaking to reporters.”
We believe this is the footage in question…
Looks like Llorente is now staring down the barrel of (at least) three, long, barren, game-less months at Bilbao before he toddles off to pastures new in January.
It’s a little sad to see such a wonderful player going stale on the bench (he’s made just six substitute appearances this season), especially when you hark back to Llorente’s immense displays in the Europa League last season, but this would appear to be a sordid little griefhole of his making, so sympathy is in short supply.
Where will he end up? Well, the smart money’s on Juventus, though Pies would gladly throw in a shiny groat to see him playing in the Premier League as of the New Year…
Make it so.