Fernando Llorente has had a wonderful career, but perhaps it would have been even better without the free transfer situation he went through at Athletic Club Bilbao.
The striker is almost certainly much richer than he would have been without that contract running out, but it’s not exactly been plain sailing since. A Spanish international then and one of Europe’s more respected strikers, Llorente left Athletic for nothing.
The club were furious, he was banished during his final season more than once and he went from being a hero to a pariah. Anger still remains for many and after leaving the club Llorente’s bank balance went up and his importance as a footballer went down.
Juventus love a free transfer and snapped Llorente up and he was reasonably successful, but never really a crucial star in the team. the arrival and subsequent success of younger Spaniard Alvaro Morata saw Llorente move to Sevilla and again he lost importance.
Now 31 years old Llorente is potentially moving again, but Estadio Deportivo say the player’s high wages, something which is a legacy from his free transfer, are putting clubs off.
Middlesbrough, Espanyol and Lazio have all been linked, but without a firm offer Llorente is staying where he is. The Seville newspaper quote him explaining: “I have two years of contract and we will see… Unless something happens, I think I will continue.”
That ‘something’ seems to mean a club coming in and matching the wages he’s paid, or upping them, and then agreeing a fee with Sevilla, the latter not being considered too difficult.
Spain’s Euro 2016 squad included Athletic Club Bilbao’s current main striker, Aritz Aduriz. At 35 years of age, he’s stepped into the Llorente space for both club and country.