January 5, 2013
Gurpegi focused on on-field matters
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.3||1.1|
|Goals against *||1.4||2.0|
|Last 5 home||L-D-L-L-W||W-D-L-W-W|
|Last 5 away||D-L-L-D-D||W-D-D-L-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Levante | Athletic Bilbao|
|6/1||Real Betis||6/1||@Rayo Vallecano|
Athletic Bilbao midfielder Carlos Gurpegi is pleased the long-running saga over the future of striker Fernando Llorente could soon be at an end and hopes on-field matters will now take centre-stage at San Mames.
Llorente has been in the spotlight since announcing last summer he would not be renewing his Athletic contract when it ran out at the end of this season, sparking widespread and continued speculation about his next destination.
However, all that could soon be over with Llorente currently in talks with Serie A champions Juventus, and Gurpegi for one is looking forward to drawing a line under the matter and focusing on the team's bid to recover from a poor first half to the season.
He said in Marca: "Perhaps the drama will end. It is good for everyone that there will be calm and between us all we can think only about Athletic, which is where we are and who we all want to be as high in the table as possible.
"We need to try to achieve the consistency that we have not had this season and to try and finish the season well. We have a debt with our fans and perhaps in June we can pay it off.''
Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez, meanwhile, does not believe the news that Llorente could finally be on his way will unsettle his side's opponents this weekend.
The 27-year-old Spain striker has only started one league game all season while his team-mate Aritz Aduriz has been among the goals, netting 10 times to lie fourth in La Liga's scoring charts behind Lionel Messi, Radamel Falcao and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Martinez said: "This year they have had the luxury of leaving out Llorente many times and this speaks of the potential they have. The signing of Aduriz has given them many goals.
"Athletic are a difficult opponent who are coming off a loss. Last year they showed they are a team that bets on playing very aggressive football in attack.''
Obafemi Martins will miss out for the hosts as he is suspended, while Jose Barkero is an injury doubt but Christian Lell should return after missing the 3-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano before the break.
For Athletic, Gurpegi, Fernando Amorebieta and Ander Iturraspe are all fit again, while Markel Susaeta returns from suspension but Jon Aurtenetxe is a major doubt with an ankle injury so Oscar de Marcos may be forced into an auxiliary role at left-back.