Fernando Llorente has revealed the difficulties of settling in at Juventus. “Being last choice was mortifying.”
The big Spaniard moved to Turin in the summer on a Bosman free transfer after his contract with Athletic Bilbao expired.
However, he struggled for playing time at the start of the campaign as boss Antonio Conte opted for different solutions in attack.
Speaking to the Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday, the 28-year-old says it took him some time to adjust to the physical demands on Italian football.
“I was in good shape when I arrived for pre-season, I felt strong, but my body was not used to so much work and at one stage in America I felt empty, totally rundown,” he revealed.
“If the body doesn’t work then your mind reacts as a consequence and I started to have doubts. The competition for places was also frightening, there are five of us and it is not easy to find space.
“The training at Juventus is totally different to what it was at Athletic Bilbao,” he added. “You never get a break and my body couldn’t take it.
“I moved forward by working and because I felt the faith of everyone. Then, evidently, my body was able to switch, let us say that it accepted the radical changes and I started again.
“I was given a few games, minutes and the more I played the better I felt. I found my rhythm even if I had a few problems at the beginning adjusting to the mentality.
“I had the fortune of getting the chance to play when I was finally finding my form again, then the injuries to Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella helped.”
There were reports that Llorente was already considering a January move away from the Italian giants given his anonymous start.
“I didn’t want to leave, but I was disappointed because being the last choice striker is mortifying,” he continued.
“The important thing was to not let my head drop and to keep fighting, working hard as I think hard work always pays.
“Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane suffered initially at Juventus too, then I knew that Serie A was different, that getting used to it would take time and be a struggle.
“It’s harder to score in Italy, you often defend with five. Conte explained to me that patience would be needed for me to adapt to Serie A. He stayed close to me.”
Llorente added that he had been left impressed by the whole environment in Turin and by one player in particular.
“Andrea Pirlo. I saw his qualities from the outside, but he makes a real impression in training. It’s striking because he never makes a mistake. You have to be left amazed by his free-kicks.”
The centre-forward has scored four goals in 12 games for the Bianconeri.