Athletic Bilbao – Hanging on to Fernando Llorente & Javi Martinez

The two most sought after Spanish player this summer both come from the same club that isn’t in the business of selling their players, despite the big offers. Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez have both made an impression on Europe’s biggest clubs over the last couple of years, but Athletic Bilbao are still trying to hold on to the Spanish internationals.

Martinez had a busy summer. First as a substitute on the Spanish side that won Euro 2012, followed by a more prominent role on the Spanish U-23 team that flunked at the Olympic games. Since turning into more of a centre back after playing as a DM/CM since the beginning of his career, Martinez just drew more attention to his talents.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have always been in the picture, but Bilbao’s demands for over €40 million have kept them away. The same stroy with Bayern Munich, very interested in obtaining the 23 year old who has been with Bilbao since 2006, joining from Osasuna, grabbing a spot in the first team before his 18th birthday. He has since played in 251 matches for the team in all competitions, scoring 26 goals, reaching two Copa del Rey finals and the Europe League final last season.

Bayern aren’t willing to pay the price Bilbao are asking for, talking about more “normal” fees like €25 million. Martinez himself is trying to apply pressure on the club, saying, according to his agent, that he wants to leave to Germany. According to his agent, it’s a 50-50 chance now, hoping that both clubs can agree upon the transfer price.

His teammate, Fernando Llorente, might find it a bit easier to leave the club. First of all, his age (27) should mean that a €20-25 million from Juventus, the leading suitors, trying to bid for every possible premier striker in Europe, might be enough. Llorente’s contract runs out in 12 months, which might force Bilbao to settle for less than Llorente’s release clause of €36 million. He isn’t willing, at the moment, to sing a new contract offer worth €4.5 million a season.

Juventus aren’t the only team after the striker who has scored 75 league goals for Bilbao over the past five seasons. Manchester United, who were overwhelmed by Llorente and Bilbao last season in the Europa League are also after the striker, with Tottenham also rumored to be interested. It seems that Llorente still prefers the Italian champions, with Antonio Conte or not, to be his new team. With both players, it’s all a matter of whether Bilbao are willing to accept, although finding new talent, no matter how much money you receive for your stars, is pretty difficult considering the limited talent pool Bilbao have to use.