Juventus are as big as Real Madrid and Barcelona, says Llorente

The Spain international is flattered to be playing for the Serie A champions next season after an acrimonious departure from Athletic Bilbao
Fernando Llorente is relishing the prospect of playing for Juventus next season, insisting they are a club to rival Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The outgoing Athletic Bilbao striker, who will leave his boyhood club once his contract runs out this summer, is enthused by the prospect of playing under Antonio Conte's leadership at one of Europe's elite sides.

"It's one of the best teams in Europe and the best in Italy," the 28-year-old told Marca. "Juventus has impressed me ever since it expressed an interest.

"It's a really big club, comparable to Real Madrid and Barcelona. I'm lucky to be able to play for a team like that. It's as though I've always known it was my team."

Despite excitement for his imminent move to Italy, the Basque forward admitted he has been saddened by the acrimonious nature of his departure from his boyhood club, with coach Marcelo Bielsa restricting him to just four starts in last season's La Liga.

"I've always attempted to choose the best option for both Athletic and me. I tried to get the best deal but I came up against a brick wall," he concluded.

"I didn't want to go for free. Neither did I want to have the year I've had. I'll never go through that again if I can do anything to avoid it."