Conte: Llorente mistreated by Athletic Bilbao

The coach says that the Bianconeri are only now seeing the best of the Spaniard because he needed time to recover from his final season in La Liga
Juventus boss Antonio Conte has claimed that Fernando Llorente was always going to need time to settle in Turin as the forward "was not treated well" by former club Athletic Bilbao.

The Spain international, who joined the Bianconeri on a free transfer during the summer, was repeatedly overlooked during the early stages of the Serie A season.

However, Llorente, who fell out of favour with then-Athletic boss Marcelo Bielsa last season, has forced his way into the Juve starting line-up in recent weeks and Conte insists that he always knew that the striker would come good.

"I wasn’t lying when I said that we needed to be patient and wait for Llorente to return to the player he was before," the former Italy international told beIN Sport.

"Last season was difficult for him as a footballer and professionally because he wasn’t treated well at Athletic Bilbao. He hardly played.

"He also needed time to become familiar with our system and the intensity of our training sessions."

Llorente, for his part, freely admits that it took him a while to feel at home in Turin and that Conte's continued support proved crucial in that regard.

"I’m happy to be playing for this club," the 28-year-old told beIN Sport. "It is a great one who believed in me and that was the most important thing.

"Before arriving I regularly spoke with Conte and his belief in me pushed me to sign for Juventus.

"It was difficult at the start for me to settle in Italy. This was a new club, a new language - everything was tough.

"But I feel much better and I want to demonstrate what I can do."

Llorente has netted two goals so far this season for Juve, with his most recent strike coming in last weekend's 2-1 Champions League loss to Real Madrid.