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Bilbao President Won’t Compromise

Athletic Bilbao President Josu Urrutia has reiterated that he will only be selling Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente at their buy-out clauses.

The duo are the subject of persistent speculation about imminent departures from the club this summer.

Llorente, with a €35m buyout clause, has failed to agree to a new contract, whilst Bayern Munich are in continued talks with the Basques over Martinez and his €40m clause.

Whilst the duo continue to be frozen out of first-team action, their President has made clear that his position will not change.

“We’ve done everything in our hands. They [Llorente and Martinez] are still Athletic players and we hope they’ll remain with us,” he told Canal Plus.

“We’ve always said that a player can only leave the club on two conditions – either the club no longer wants the player or another club pays their buy-out clause, and neither of those conditions have been met.

“We’ve not held negotiations for Llorente. We have said what we think and the rumours are of no interest to us.”

Urrutia also insisted that the fact that Coach Marcelo Bielsa left both players out of his squad for the club’s Europa League qualifying game against Helsinki does not mean he does not want them to stay at the club.

“We are a team and everyone is available to the Coach. We never take every player to a game, we always leave one or two out.

“He [Bielasa] has chosen the players he thinks he needs and now in Thursday’s match we’re going to try to make amends for the errors we made on Sunday.”

Athletic Bilbao have made a poor start to the season, losing their opening games 5-3 and 4-0 respectively. However, Urrutia did not choose to blame the results on the instability that surrounds the club owing to Llorente and Martinez.

“We’ve played two games and we’ve got no points. We haven’t played well and so haven’t won any points. But despite this poor start we can still have a good season.

“To concede nine goals is significant, and obviously we will work to improve on this and on our balance of play.”