Llorente hints again at Athletic departure

Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente has given the biggest hint yet that he could be set to depart the club in the near future.

Despite netting his first La Liga goal of the season during the club's thrilling 3-3 draw with Espanyol, the 27-year-old has revealed he may not renew his contract with the Basque club which expires in the summer.

"I can not guarantee that I will still be with Athletic in 2013. In January I'm free to talk and I will consider all my options. But I want to forget about that and help the team. The less people talk about me the better," Llorente told Cadena SER.

The Spanish international, who was included in his country's Euro 2012 squad, had looked set to move to Italian champions Juventus during the summer transfer window and although the move eventually fell through, Turin could still be the striker's destination in January.

However, Premier League sides Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have also all been heavily linked with the striker in recent months.

Llorente has been at Athletic since 2005 and has admitted he is hurt by the fans at San Mames who have turned against him, and believes they should understand his decision.

"It hurts that people have turned against me. It hurts that they doubt me, I've always given everything for Athletic.

"Even if at some point in my career I don't play with Athletic, it will always be my team. It's personal. The club have given me everything, it's where I grew up from the time I was a boy.

"If for whatever reason I leave here, nobody should be annoyed with me. It's a personal decision that people should respect."

By Simon Blaquiere