The frustrated signing of Fernando Llorente opens a schism in Athletic

The frustrated signing of Fernando Llorente opens a schism in Athletic

Two executives veto the return of the forward, with whom there was already an agreement, despite the favorable opinion of the president, the sports director, the coach and part of the squad.

The frustrated signing of Fernando Llorente opens a schism in Athletic

Since he assumed the athletic management of Athletic, in January 2019, Rafa Alkorta has been trying to convince his superiors of the advisability of Fernando Llorente's return to San Mamés. A proposal that has always had the strong support of the coach, a Gaizka Garitano who has been lamenting for a year and a half that he lacks a center forward to complete his squad. And the Athletic market is what it is. It was (and is) Llorente or nobody.

The operation, however, was rejected on no less than two occasions by the board of directors. One as soon as he took office, at the beginning of last year, and another this same summer, at the insistence of Garitano. In the face of the bad sporting situation of the team and the pressure of the coach, however, everything changed in the last hours of the market. The president, Aitor Elizegi , finally gave his arm to twist and authorized the negotiations for the imminent return of the Riojan forward, who had (and has) a contract with Naples, which does not have him.

So between Sunday and Monday everything was reactivated. Alkorta and club professionals got down to work and contacted Llorente and his brother Chus , who acts as their representative. The agreement was quick, because the world champion has long wanted to return to Bilbao. Napoli did not put up a major problem to agree on a loan until the end of this season, because they had plenty of striker. The player, for his part, ruled out other options he was handling, such as going to Sampdoria, to bet everything on Athletic.

Open wounds

An always controversial return was already being negotiated due to the way in which his departure took place, with Llorente rejecting his renewal and with then-president Josu Urrutia refusing to transfer him, causing him to exhaust his last year of contract before leaving for Juventus with the letter of freedom. A wound still open for part of the fans, who do not forgive him for that and, despite the shortcomings of the squad, did not want the return of the 35-year-old forward on the last day of this market.

That was the matter until Athletic backed down and told Llorente that it was canceling the negotiations a few hours before the closing. After having reached a principle of three-way agreement, the Bilbao club backed down due to the explicit veto of the operation of two of the directors with the most economic power of the board of directors, whose opinion weighed more than that of Elizegi, Alkorta and Garitano together . Llorente did not sign for Athletic, he had to stay at Napoli because he closed the rest of the options he had and the image of the club has ended on the ground. The summary is that Athletic negotiated the signing of Llorente without knowing if he wanted to sign him. Unheard.

Accounts to be approved

It remains to be seen the consequences that this schism will have on the rojiblanco club, which also affects the squad. One of the franchise players, Yuri Berchiche , spoke on social networks, responding to the publication of a media outlet, saying that “we have done what we could” to promote Llorente's return to Bilbao and applauding a video in the that a journalist harshly criticizes the board of directors for such a farce. Some players (not only Yuri) get upset, the coach is left without his desired signing (he has also run out of Javi Martínez ), the sports director is disallowed and the president sees his opinion annulled by that of two low-ranking managers.

And all this with some decisive accounts to be approved in the Assembly to be held in the next month and a half. If last year it already managed to carry them out by the minimum, due to the frontal opposition that this board has had since the same day it was elected against the continuation candidacy headed by Alberto Uribe-Echevarría , now it seems impossible that the compromise partners Give Elizegi the oxygen balloon she needs. And, to top it all, the team is in relegation places.

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