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Llorente happy to help Athletic

September 17, 2012
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Despite being targeted by Athletic Bilbao fans, wantaway striker Fernando Llorente is delighted to be back helping his team.

Fernando Llorente
AssociatedFernando Llorente: Substitute impact

Llorente, 27, was dropped for his club's first three La Liga games after handing in a transfer request - a move that has drawn criticism from the club's supporters.

However the Spain international made his first appearance of the season on Sunday, scoring just three minutes after entering as a substitute, as Athletic came from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 at Espanyol.

And after his recent problems at the club, Llorente admitted it was good to be back contributing to Athletic's cause.

"I am very happy about that," Llorente told Spanish radio show Carrusel Deportivo. "For a long time I have wanted to help the team. I finally had my opportunity and this is my job - to do as much as possible each team I go out onto the pitch for my team, so that we can win games."

Llorente had to face being whistled at by disgruntled fans at the club's Lezama training facility last month, something the player reveals was difficult to take.

"It hurts me when people set themselves against me, when people doubt me, because I have always given everything for Athletic and I will keep giving until my last day here," he said. "It has been tough. I had to take difficult decisions, you never know how some things will turn out. At the end there were some awkward moments. Sometimes, when things go badly, it makes you stronger. I am very keen now to keep helping the team."

However, the striker still failed to commit his future at the club, hinting at a possible move away in January.

"In January I am free (to talk to other clubs), but that is something that I want to leave to the side for now," Llorente said. "I want to be very focused in helping the team. It is not good when things like this keep coming out and distract us. The less of that, the best for everyone."

A question on continuing interest from Serie A giants Juventus was left unanswered by Llorente, who said nobody should be angry with him if he does decide to further his career elsewhere.

"I have been at Athletic for many years, I am an Athletic player and I will always be an Athletic fan," he added. "Even if a moment comes in my career when I do not continue here, I will always be an Athletic fan, because the club has given me everything, I have been here since I was a boy. If I leave here nobody should be angry. It is a personal decision and that should be respected."