Fernando Llorente was a legend for Athletic Club while he was still playing at the San Mames. The striker affectionately known as El Rey Leon, the Lion King, came up through Lezama and broke into the first team at a young age. He would go on to become the 15th highest scorer in club history with 118 goals before everything went awry. He left the club in 2013 after refusing a new contract and joined Juventus for free. Fans saw the move as a betrayal and have never forgiven Llorente for turning his back on his boyhood club. Now, the 33-year-old is open to a return.
The striker still has one year left on his contract but it has become clear that his current club won’t stand in his way if he wants to leave in the upcoming transfer window. Last summer it looked like he could join Real Sociedad but the move never materialized. In a recent interview Llorente, who is currently playing with Tottenham in England, revealed that he would seriously consider an offer to return to Athletic if the Lions made the proposal.
“Athletic Club is my home and if they make a proposal, a return could happen. I enjoyed many wonderful moments at the club that I will never forget and Athletic will always hold a special place in my heart because of my time there. If they do make me an offer to come back then I would have to think about it and, yes, maybe it could happen.”
The 33-year-old certainly sounds interested in a return to the San Mamés, but that doesn’t mean Athletic will be. The relationship between the club and player was severely tainted when Llorente left in 2013. Even worse, the fans may never forgive him and the damage done may be irreparable. While it is true that Athletic could use another striker in the team, there is nothing suggesting that they are interested in bringing back Llorente at this time. No one knows what the future holds, but it is safe to say that if a return did happen it would be met with many different emotions from a fanbase that still feels betrayed.