There is a soap box drama happening at ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO which is worth a post for all the Spanish Football Sports readers. After attempting to renew the contract of 27 year old forward FERNANDO LLORENTE, the player has announced to his Club President that he does not wish to continue another season. The situation gets spicy because the Spanish International becomes a “free-agent”  as of the 1 st of January of 2013 & can go to any Club he desires FREE of transfer, that is, Bilbao doesn't see an Euro. Therefore, the Club is in a dilemma (a) sell now to grab the cash or (b) stick to its peculiar philosophy (more later) of not selling & lose the money. But there is more behind this simple view...

This particular transfer tussle is colourful because of the unique characteristics of the Bilbao Club. The Club is the Sporting cornerstone of the “Basque region & culture”, as FC Barcelona, Athletic has won overtime the hub of the “spirit” of the region, unusual if you consider that the Club originally was founded by Englishmen. With this almighty responsibility, Athletic Club Bilbao has a policy of only having “Basque born or Basque family descended” players. This makes their players a very scare resource & very much prized at the Club which explains how hard it is to leave or be allowed to depart.

Fernando Llorente was born in "Navarra Region" ( adjacent non-Basque region, although claimed by Basque nationalists ) & was adopted in a Football sense by Bilbao Club 17 years ago, that is, the player has been with Athletic 17 years! Since then Llorente has become the flag & insignia of the “new Bilbao”, a goal-scoring machine & part responsible for getting Bilbao into a Europa League & Spanish Cup final. The man is simply a local hero-god, a symbol of the Club & indirectly (unfortunate perhaps) of Basque culture

To keep the player so as to renew his contract with Bilbao, the Club made a historical offer: 4.5M€ per year contract. Never has the Club made such an economic effort to keep its Football “masthead”. Fernando Llorente has been quiet, non-committed & has finally announced that he declines the Clubs offer & wishes to leave. The motive according to the player is “Sporting”, he wishes to play in a Club that participates in Champions League & can offer titles. This is an argument hard to knock back, as Fernando Llorente is a World Class forward that can easily play in any of the big European Clubs, while Athletic cannot give the player the titles or the World stage that is equal to his Football talents.

Fernando Llorente transfer 2012
Fernando Llorente

The NO from Llorente has hurt the spirit of the Club & offended the very fibre of the members & the masses with many seeing the Llorente decision as “high treason”, so much so that the “national hero” is now booed & whistle in his very own home ground "San Mames".

What is the Clubs official posture to all this? President Urrutia has sentenced a couple of days back:
(1) Athletic does not sell & will not negotiate.
(2) If a Club wishes Llorente they will have to pay the 36M€ (plus taxes) contract release clause.

This last point eliminates 98% of the current European Clubs. The much talked about & written offensive by Italian Club JUVENTUS says that they will not pass 20M€. If this is true then they too are eliminated. Plus if Bilbao offered 4.5M€ /season & Llorente refused this, then there must be a higher salary offer right?

There are only two Clubs in the World that can:
(1) pay a contract release clause of this amount (barring Man City & PSG)
(2) offer a player 5M€ or more per season as salary

… they are REAL MADRID CF or FC BARCELONA. As Sherlock Holmes said "elementary my dear Watson"

This has shed new light on everything. The hypothesis now circulating is that Fernando Llorente has already come to an agreement with one of these Clubs (Real Madrid sounds the loudest) & to not renew his contract, stick out this year at Bilbao & come free to the “new Club”. If this is indeed true the “cultural rivalry” between Bilbao & Madrid explains even more the Bilbao Club current stance, hostility & non-cooperation.

What will Llorente do now? What will Athletic Club do now? Will the first survive one more season at Bilbao which could turn into a personal hell? Will he accept a lesser offer from Juventus because Bilbao refuses to sell to Madrid (if the latter is true)?
Will Bilbao Club not sell & miss out on 20-25M€?

There are still 16 days left in the transfer market window. When the highly charged emotions unfortunately mixed with issues other than Football calm down, both parties will regain their logic. The Club will look for its money & the player will get his new opportunity. This is the logical thing. But Football , & emotionally charged Football, is not logical. It may occur that the player will stick out the season to go free elsewhere, or Juventus will pay more & sign the player, or Real Madrid / FC Barcelona will pay the contract clause, or not …whatever. What is clear & certain that Athletic Club Bilbao & Fernando Llorente have put an end to their long relationship? How will it end?

Stay tuned, anything may happen & believe me,  anything is anything. Or nothing :O)

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...