Llorente gives green light, Mourinho starts mind games.

I’m leaving Athletic Bilbao, confirms Llorente. The Spain international has revealed he plans to depart the Basque outfit, but was coy on his destination, stating that his future was in the hands of his agent

As Goal.com exclusively revealed earlier this week, the Bianconeri are set to make a renewed €7 million bid to tempt the striker to move to Turin in January before rival suitors can begin negotiations. Llorente has now confirmed his intention to depart the Basque side, although he conceded it was painful to quit his boyhood club.
“I’m leaving Athletic,” he told Tuttosport. “The truth is that the project is very good and for me it’s a pain, an absolute sadness not to play next year in the new San Mames, but football is like that.”
The 27-year-old refused to be drawn on his destination, however, stressing that his sole focus was to continue training and playing for Marcelo Bielsa’s side. “Everything is in the hands of my representatives. I’m only focused on training, to train, to play,” he added. “I’m just thinking about football today, about our league.”

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Maradona: Juventus would be lethal with Cavani

The Argentina icon believes the talismanic Napoli striker would be a fantastic addition to Antonio Conte’s side, while he reserved special praise for their “world class” midfield. Diego Maradona feels Juventus would become a truly formidable force if they signed Edison Cavani
The Napoli hot-shot has been linked with a move to Turin as the Bianconeri’s well-documented pursuit of a top-class goalscorer continues, and Maradona believes the Uruguay international with the Serie A champions would be a match made in heaven. He told Tuttosport: “I cannot imagine what it would be like if Juve had, for example, Cavani as a centre-forward. How many points [would they win]?

“The team of [Antonio] Conte reminds me of Michel [Platini], my nemesis. Ultimately this is a very solid and compact team. They create at least five opportunities to score in every game and two, sometimes three, are taken.” Maradona went on to praise the trio of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio, adding that such an impressive midfield easily makes up for their shortcomings elsewhere in the side.

When asked what he feels Juventus’ greatest asset is, he said: “The midfield, without a doubt. Pirlo, Vidal and Marchisio are world class. They do everything: defense, assists, goals. With players of this calibre Juventus are one of the few teams that do not need to jump the midfield because it is from there that everything is born. “In defence, I do not see phenomena or champions. Apart from [Gianluigi] Buffon, but he is the keeper, not the defender. Anyway, I repeat, a midfield like that is more than enough.”

Maradona was in Dubai for the Globe Soccer Awards, where he was handed the accolade for Best Player of the Century by Uefa president Michel Platini, with whom he was a fierce rival as a player. The 52-year-old revealed he was delighted to receive the award, adding that it was “fantastic” to be handed the prize by the France legend. “I’m excited. I did not expect this. And for Platini to reward me …. It’s fantastic,” he added.

“Michel is an example for all, he had a wonderful career in all the areas of football in which he was involved. And in a couple of years, he will rise to the last step: the throne of Fifa. Boys follow his example.”

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Mourinho: I fear Juventus in the Champions League

The Blancos boss compared the structure of the Italian champions’ side to that of his triumphant 2004 Porto team, and revealed he has been contemplating his own future. Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has admitted he is wary of the threat posed by Juventus in the Champions League.

The Serie A champions finished top of a difficult qualifying group to progress to the knock-out phase, and the Portuguese boss has acknowledged that Antonio Conte’s side will be tough to beat in this season’s tournament.
“I’ll be honest: I do not like [Juventus] because I’m afraid of them,” he said in an interview with Tuttosport. “And I say that Conte’s team can win the Champions League. “It is a collective, an extremely compact, solid, almost unsinkable ship. Missing a top player in attack? That’s just as well, I believe. This means that the goals can come from anywhere and at any time: a midfielder, a striker from outside the box. I mean it: it does not matter if there is a [Karim] Benzema or [Gonzalo] Higuain in a team structured like that.

“This reminds me of my Porto in 2004. And if anyone, by chance, had forgotten, Porto won the Champions League final in Gelsenkirchen.” Mourinho’s future at Santiago Bernabeu has been shrouded in uncertainty of late, with los Blancos having all-but surrendered their Liga crown to Barcelona amidst a string of controversial incidents, the latest being the decision to drop Iker Casillas from the side.
The former Chelsea trainer admitted he has been forced to reflect on his future after recent events, but stressed he remains committed to the Spanish capital club as they strive for their 10th European crown.
“After the defeat last Saturday in Malaga I’ve got to think long and deeply about my situation and Real Madrid,” Mourinho continued. “I spent Christmas in Portugal with my family and now I’m here in Dubai where I said goodbye to many friends. “And I came to one conclusion: football changes, changes, changes, virtually every day, every minute, almost every second. But there is only one thing that does not change: the team is always the coach.”
When asked whether he would bid an early farewell to Real Madrid, he added: “I’ll answer by quoting a phrase of Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘I’m too old to quit.’ And I, if I may, I am still too ‘young’ to do so. “My stated goal is to win a third Champions League with three different teams: with Real after Porto and Inter. No one has ever succeeded. And for Real Madrid it would be the 10th Champions League, the only team to reach double digits.”

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Buffon believes Juventus team-mate Pirlo is ‘same quality’ as Messi

The Old Lady’s captain says the Argentine is as good as the Barcelona star, and adds that he wants to continue playing until he is 37 years old. Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says that team-mate Andrea Pirlo is as good as Lionel Messi, but says his team-mate does not get as much recognition because he does not score as much. Messi has hit 91 goals during a record-breaking 2012, and while the Italy international praised the Barcelona legend, he believes Pirlo has similar abilities. “He’s a once in a generation player. I think it’s unlikely that any human being again will repeat the numbers that Messi is getting,” Buffon told Sport Mediaset.

“But he is a striker, so numbers are on his side. I think Andrea Pirlo has the same sort of quality. “He does not have to envy anyone, but in the world of football, awards go to those who score goals.” The Juve captain also said his own recent success makes him believe he can play until he is at least 37-years-old, and admitted that last season’s success had given him added confidence in his abilities. “I’m 34 and I do not feel old but mature,” he said.

“I know where I can go and I think I can play at least three more years at the highest level.”
Buffon led Juventus to a domestic double last term, winning the Serie A title and Super Cup, before captaining the Italian national team to the European Championship final, eventually losing out 4-0 to Spain.
“2012 was a year full of sporting satisfaction, personal and otherwise,” he added.  “It was a year that I will remember for a long time. We were able to do something memorable thanks to hard work and sweat as well as the good fortune of being led by a great coach. “No one expected we were able to get to the final, we were not even remotely favorites.”

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Marchisio: Balotelli would struggle to adapt at Juventus

The midfielder is of the opinion that the Italy international would have problems with the strict rules at the Bianconeri, and would not fit the team if he arrived in Turin does not believe that Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is disciplined enough to play for the Serie A title holders. The controversial striker has recently been linked with a move to the Old Lady, but the midfielder does not believer the former Inter player will be a good fit at the Bianconeri. “I would put a question mark over a potential transfer of Mario to the club,” Marchisio told Il Messaggero. “Here, we have rules. He has tremendous talent, but I’m not sure whether he will be able to change here. “I don’t think there’s any money for a striker. Karim Benzema is someone I liked even before he went to Real Madrid – he reminds me of the first Ronaldo.” Marchisio then went on to dismiss comparisons between Juve and Barcelona, insisting that the Old Lady try to play “purposeful” football. “Comparisons with Barca are nice, but they are exaggerated. The numbers speak for themselves. We are on the start of a path, trying to win by playing spectacular, but also purposeful football. “I want 2013 to be at least equal to 2012. We have to lift at least one trophy.” Juventus currently top the Serie A table with an eight-point advantage over Lazio.






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