Juventus bid for Bilbao's Fernando Llorente

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Italian club Juventus is opening talks to buy Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente after the end of this season, the Spanish club said Thursday.

Juve formally told Athletic on Thursday that they were opening negotiations with Llorente, whose contract ends June 30, the Basque team said in a brief online statement.

The Spanish international said last month he would not stay with Athletic Bilbao after his contract expires, bringing an end to long-running speculation about his departure which upset many fans.

Llorente said at the time he was not going because of the money.

"People talk about financial reasons but it's not that, that's clear. Athletic's offer was irresistible. The press haven't helped much for my renewal, it's one of the reasons for the bad feeling with me on the field and that has pushed me not to renew -- that, along with many other things," he said.

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