Spanish striker Fernando Llorente is one of the most wanted strikers in football, rated at £28 million last summer by his club, his expiring contract means he is available for one third of that now.
Llorente stated earlier this month he would likely see out his contract with Athletic Bilbao until the summer, but developments in Basque country this week could force him out of the club this January.
As the players attended the training ground yesterday for a usual morning session, a group of Bilbao fans attended and unveiled a banner which read:
"Llorente, Go now!"
Club staff quickly made them remove the banner, and sought to remove those responsible, but the damage had been done - Their point had been well made.
Reports in Spain stated that a shaken Llorente had to be calmed and encouraged by manager Marcelo Bielsa, who he had a public disagreement with earlier in the season, in order to continue the session.
It is sad to see fans turning on Llorente like this, but it is perfectly understandable, star players who announce their intention to leave can face indifferent and angry responses from supporters, and in Bilbao's case - The results are not there either.
Last season's Europa League runners-up are struggling on the pitch, stuck down in 12th position in La Liga, despite a 1-0 win at the weekend away to relegation battlers Mallorca, only their second away win of the season.
The mindset of fans appears to be that for the club to move on, Llorente must too - And get the club some cash rather than leaving on a Bosman.
Will the news trigger action from his suitors at Juventus, Tottenham, Liverpool, or Arsenal? It is as yet early to say, but with the players mindset likely to be affected by the saga - It isn't a bad time to slap down a bid and make him think about doing just what the supporters say, 'leave now.'
Should Llorente move on this January? Where should he go?
image: © birasuegi