Fernando Llorente was close to Real
Juventus striker Fernando Llorente said he has almost joined Real Madrid on several occasions in the past.
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Llorente moved to the Serie A champions last summer on a free transfer after an awkward exit from his only previous club Athletic Bilbao -- having previously been linked with Madrid in the media at various times over his career.
Ahead of Juve’s Champions League group game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday evening, the Basque targetman told AS that he had been especially close to a permanent move to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2012.
"There was real interest," Llorente said. "In the end things did not come together. It happened maybe a few times… but it was not viable to leave Athletic. There, either someone pays your release clause or you stay. The last time was when I had a year left on my contract, after the good year in the UEFA [Europa League]."
As his Athletic contract ended Juventus made the strongest push to persuade him to join them, Llorente said.
"When there was less time left Madrid were not there, and Juve appeared, and that gave me more confidence in them," he said. "But joining Madrid had been a possibility, they are one of the best teams in the world."
Llorente said Juventus were travelling to Spain knowing they needed to get a point at least, and with memories of the weekend’s shock 4-2 reverse at Fiorentina already forgotten.
"We are going to arrive strong despite what happened in Florence," he said. "We have not begun too well in the Champions League, with two draws against Copenhagen and Galatasaray, so we are hungry for points. We need to take points from these two clashes with Madrid."
The Spain international -- who has just one goal in five Serie A games with his new club -- said he was still adapting to the demands of Bianconeri coach Antonio Conte, especially the rehearsed tactical moves which his team often used.
"This team has been playing together for three years," he said. "They all know the way of playing, and to pick it up you have to train a lot. It is a very 'mechanised' football. You cannot do what you want, nor take the ball yourself. Each movement is studied. The move ends as it must end, and there are lots of moves… [for example] when the ball goes to the wing, a forward’s movement to meet the cross is [usually] instinctive. But there are also coordinated movements with the other forwards."
The physical side of training under Conte also took some getting used to, Llorente said.
"We do some physical work which is very different," he said. "I have never done it before, we use machines I did not even know of. And also other exercises for explosiveness which leave you exhausted. Training sessions are more demanding. It is brutal … although there is also a good side: you get fit quicker."