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Llorente announces he will leave Bilbao in the summer

ESPN staff
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Fernando Llorente will be in demand in the summer © Getty Images
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Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente is set to spark a race for his signature after announcing he will leave the Spanish club in the summer.

Llorente, 27, confirmed on Tuesday that he will not be renewing his contract at San Mames - after falling out with the club after they blocked his attempts to leave prior to the new season.

The member of Spain's victorious squads at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship will be an attractive option for clubs around Europe, with players of his quality rarely available for next to nothing.

Tottenham and Manchester City have been strongly linked with the imposing forward in the past, while Arsenal and Liverpool - among other sides - could also make an offer to sign him, once parties are allowed to speak to the player about terms at the start of January.

"I am going to leave on June 30," Llorente said at a press conference. "I want to develop as a player and try something new."

Llorente has hardly featured for the Basque side this season after falling out with the Bilbao hierarchy, after his attempts to join Juventus in the summer were blocked. Llorente claims the club then poisoned the fans against him by spreading lies about his situation, convincing him to move on when his contract concludes.

He added: "It isn't about money because the offer the club made was irresistible. The media have not helped with the negotiations and it is one of the things that has generated the bad atmosphere around me out on the pitch. This has encouraged me not to renew my contract; this and many other things.

"I took the decision when I went out for the first Europa League game at San Mames [in August].

"Most of what has come out in the press is lies and this has turned people against me. This has meant when I run out on to the pitch people whistle at me.

"There is a sector of the crowd who do not want me but I feel loved by the majority."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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