The full-back says he sees no reason why the in-demand duo would depart San Mames this summer, while he is also keen for Marcelo Bielsa to remain as coach for years to comeEXCLUSIVE
By Alberto Pinero
Jon Aurtenetxe has revealed that he expects Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez to resist the overtures of other clubs and stay loyal to Athletic Bilbao.
The towering striker enjoyed his best season in front of goal to date with 29 strikes in all competitions in the 2011-12 campaign, while the 23-year-old impressed greatly with his versatile performances in both defence and midfield.
Unsurprisingly, their performances have reportedly attracted the interest of the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but speaking exclusively to Goal.com, Aurtenetxe does not believe the "world-class" duo will move on despite the team letting slip two opportunities to claim silverware.
"Losing two finals leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but [Llorente and Martinez] are two great professionals who are really looking forward to the European Championship," he told Goal.com
"I do not think Athletic losing both finals will affect their futures at the club, or any player for that matter.
"We had a great season and they are very important to us and hopefully they won't leave. They would get into any team in the world. They are world-class players, but here they are at home as well."
Aurtenetxe then went on to shower praise on coach Marcelo Bielsa, who he has credited for his side's participation in two cup finals this season and also his own breakthrough into the first team at San Mames.
"I have a special appreciation for Bielsa. [Joaquin] Caparros also gave me my chance last year, but I had a shoulder injury then and could not play for the entire season," he continued.
"Bielsa has since given me a tremendous opportunity. I don't think I have wasted it and I will see next year if we can continue like this.
"We do not know if Bielsa will stay [for the long term]. It is a decision only he and the club can take. For the good of everyone connected to the club, I hope he stays."
Athletic finished the season 10th in La Liga but will qualify for the third qualifying round of the Europa League next term as Copa del Rey runners-up as winners Barcelona will play in the Champions League.