RICHEST AFRICANS

Jim Ovia

0out of 5

Anas Sefrioui

0out of 5

Cyril Ramaphosa

0out of 5

Chris Kirubi

2out of 5

Fernando Llorente says Antonio Conte wanted him at Chelsea

by 20/05/2017 04:53:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Swansea City will play yet another season of Premier League football next year 
  • Paul Clement's side take on West Brom at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday 
  • Llorente has revealed how Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wanted to sign him 
  • The 32-year-old striker spoke exclusively to Sportsmail's Riath Al-Samarrai

By Riath Al-Samarrai for the Daily Mail

Published: 22:30 BST, 19 May 2017 | Updated: 09:53 BST, 20 May 2017

Fernando Llorente doesn't get it. Why would they do it, why would they put themselves through it when they don't have to?

'Crazy,' he says. 'Crazy, crazy. I stand there watching them and it's not for me. No, no.'

He is talking about running, this son of Pamplona who has spent more summers than he can remember watching folk sprinting for debatable reasons.

Fernando Llorente has helped to guide Swansea City to safety in the Premier League
Fernando Llorente has helped to guide Swansea City to safety in the Premier League

Fernando Llorente has helped to guide Swansea City to safety in the Premier League

Llorente had offers from other teams but chose to stay in Wales and help them stay up
Llorente had offers from other teams but chose to stay in Wales and help them stay up

Llorente had offers from other teams but chose to stay in Wales and help them stay up

'Running from a bull — wow,' he says of the San Fermin festival in northern Spain. 'It is a beautiful tradition, but I will never do that. Never. I stand 500 metres away from the bulls and I see all the running and think, "No, I am OK back here".'

The subject of running is one that has chased Llorente around the streets of south Wales for a number of weeks, ever since Frank Lampard observed after Swansea's defeat at Watford that the striker had sprinted just 19.1metres that day.

There have even been games when he has sprinted zero, replied Paul Clement in defence of his man.

Llorente's goals have been key to the plan put in place by Swansea manager Paul Clement
Llorente's goals have been key to the plan put in place by Swansea manager Paul Clement

Llorente's goals have been key to the plan put in place by Swansea manager Paul Clement

And therein lies a point — why run away from a bull when you don't have to; why sprint on a pitch when a clever jog will do?

To that end, Llorente has proved himself quite a master of slow motion, a 32-year-old World Cup winner who has always put himself in the right position when it mattered. It has been a theme of his career and it has been a theme of his most recent season, when his 14 goals saved a club that was on a gut-busting run to the Championship.

'People talk about the running and I do not understand,' he says. 'When I am in my best form I will probably run 10 or 11 kilometres a game. I run when I need to run.

Llorente played under current Chelsea manager Antonio Conte when the pair were at Juventus

'Look at other tall strikers because I am tall (6ft 4in). Look at Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He runs where he needs to be. And he is brilliant. You compare the stats for tall men and I actually run a lot. I ran 12km against Chelsea — that is a lot for a striker.

'I know where I need to be and I do my job.'

The vindication of that is Swansea's renewed status as a Premier League team and the big-club interest that surrounds a serial winner who, theoretically, should be easing up after a career that has yielded the World Cup and European Championship with Spain, two Serie A titles and three domestic cups under Antonio Conte at Juventus, and the Europa League at Sevilla last season.

'The medals are at home in Spain,' Llorente says. But crucially, for Swansea, his current home is just off the Mumbles. Their season would surely have panned out differently had the player responded more awkwardly to an approach from Conte in January.

Llorente will be in the team to play West Brom
Llorente will be in the team to play West Brom
Sportsmail's Andy Hooper captured these exclusive images of the Swansea frontman
Sportsmail's Andy Hooper captured these exclusive images of the Swansea frontman

Sportsmail's Andy Hooper captured these exclusive images of the Swansea frontman

The forward will be aiming to finish his season strongly at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday
The forward will be aiming to finish his season strongly at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday

The forward will be aiming to finish his season strongly at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday

It remains to be seen where his long-term future lies given he has one year on his deal and is still ambitious, but when Conte's Chelsea called in the last transfer window he was unequivocal.

'I know Chelsea wanted me in January,' he says. 'I said straight away that I wanted to stay here. We were fighting relegation, there was a cause. I could not go. If a big club comes in for me in the future who knows because every player wants to play for a big club. But I am very, very happy here.

'I have always wanted to play in the Premier League and I truly believe it is the best league in the world. It is an intense league and it has been a hard season because I am used to winning. But it is also very rewarding when you achieve in this intense situation that we had here.'

Llorente and his Swansea team-mates are put through their paces in training during the week
Llorente and his Swansea team-mates are put through their paces in training during the week

Llorente and his Swansea team-mates are put through their paces in training during the week

The scale of achievement for Swansea and Llorente is significant. He was signed by Francesco Guidolin, struggled under Bob Bradley and ultimately flourished under Paul Clement, who quickly hit on the best way to activate his strengths. To that purpose, Gylfi Sigurdsson was briefed to find his team-mate's head and the winning goals in two of their past three crucial victories came that way off Sigurdsson's deliveries.

'The manager here is very, very good,' Llorente says. 'He has a plan, he knows how to do what he wants. He came here when we were bottom of the league and it was hard for everyone. For me, I had found the first part of the season hard.'

At one point, in November under Bradley, he was left out of the squad altogether for a game at Everton, prompting his brother Jesus, who is Llorente's agent, to say publicly that 'things aren't going well'.

Llorente has praised his manager Paul Clement for the work he has done at the club
Llorente has praised his manager Paul Clement for the work he has done at the club

Llorente has praised his manager Paul Clement for the work he has done at the club

'I was starting to do well under Francesco Guidolin, and then I hurt my rib when the new manager (Bradley) came in and that affects things,' Llorente says. 'But with the new manager (Clement) it has been very good — he knew what he wanted to do.'

The praise for Clement is telling considering Llorente has worked under two of the world's most celebrated managers in Marcelo Bielsa, at his first club Athletic Bilbao, and Conte at Juventus.

'Bielsa is a brilliant coach but very intense,' Llorente says. 'Every morning a three-hour session, every afternoon a three-hour session. Always demanding but he got the best from every player. I had 29 goals in one season.

Llorente has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season for Swansea City
Llorente has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season for Swansea City

Llorente has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season for Swansea City

 'And then I worked with Antonio Conte... ' Llorente bursts into laughter. 'He is so passionate. I remember the first time playing under him at Juventus he was shouting on the side and waving and I was thinking, "OK, I like him". He feels it, he lives the match like a player. The most serious manager I had but also a gentleman who jokes. 'He worked us the hardest of anyone.

'Mentally I was exhausted. And then from November in my first season at Juventus I was playing every match. And I felt I could because he brings you to that level. It is crazy work but good work. 'He is a winner. Everything he does has a reason.'

The same could be said of Llorente, running and all.

No tags for this article
View More Posts

Movies

News from all over the world

THE DETECTIVE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Read More

Pride Of A Housegirl

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

Wet Love

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Read More

The Powerful Virgin

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

BEAUTIFUL BRIDE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

BARREN MARRIAGE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More