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Urrutia denies Athletic players called for Bielsa to be sacked

The Athletic Bilbao president also revealed why he decided against selling Fernando Llorente in the summer. "Any team that has a player like Llorente in their side will always be more competitive."

Josu Urrutia has dismissed rumours that Athletic Bilbao's captains had urged him to not give coach Marcelo Bielsa a new contract at the end of last season.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the Basque club's president also spoke of his disappointment at seeing the club get knocked out of the Europa League and the Copa del Rey, but insisted "we have to take a moment to reflect on things".

Urrutia explained about the contractual dispute with centre-back Fernando Amorebieta and his reasons for not selling Fernando Llorente in the summer, but on the positive side, talked of his pride at seeing 18-year-old defender Aymeric Laporte break into the side.

Llorente: "We have taken our decisión and for now we are sticking with it. He is a vital player, as he has already proved, and the team are much more competitive with him and we expect a high level of performance from him and that he will keep on scoring important goals. I decided to not sell him for three reasons, because in addition to economic and sporting reasons, any team that has a player like Llorente in their side will always be more competitive. On the whole, the response from San Mamés has been good. I understand that some sections of our support would be hurt if he left. His absence in the team owes a lot to the great season Aritz Aduriz is having."

Amorebieta: "He has the club's final offer in his hand and he hasn't answered us. This is our definitive offer."

Muniain: "He needs to be supported and he needs confidence. He is a great player and he is still very young, we must support him."

Laporte: "He is showing that anyone can break into the first team. That's very important to the club. 2012 has been a very positive year despite the disillusion and disappointment."

Estadísticas AS.com