Fernando Llorente admitted playing second fiddle to Harry Kane at Tottenham has been an internal struggle for him.
Since completing a £12.1m transfer from Swansea City in 2017, Llorente has only been named in the Spurs line-up 20 times across all competitions. This stirred up rumours over a potential return to Athletic Bilbao in January.
The Spanish World Cup winner has, though, made some crucial contributions at Spurs. The most recent one came when he scored the decisive goal in their Champions League quarter-final win over Manchester City.
With Kane still sidelined due to an ankle injury, Llorente has enjoyed an improved role in Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
And former Juventus striker is determined to continue fighting for his place even when Kane returns.
“It’s something you have to adapt to,” Llorente told Sky Sports.
“I am at a great club with incredible players, and in the end the manager has to make decisions, because only 11 players can play. It’s not easy for him and, with players of that quality, it’s not easy to get into the team.
“Internally, it’s a struggle. Because in the end what all players want is to play every Sunday, so every time you don’t, it’s a disappointment.
“But that’s also where you learn to be mentally strong and say, ‘Okay, I’m not playing but I have to keep working hard every day and I have to be ready every when the opportunity comes and the míster needs me.’
“That is the idea I always have in my head, but it’s also where it is most difficult, because the only way to really get up to speed is to play 90 minutes regularly.
“That’s particularly the case for me because of my attributes as a striker. I need to feel strong and be in the best physical condition possible in order to show my best.”
The 34-year-old will be out of contract at the end of the season. But he is open to extending his stay once Spurs’ campaign has come to an end.
“I would love to stay for another year, but the truth is I am not thinking much about that right now,” said Llorente.
“I believe the important thing at the moment is the team, not for individual players to think about themselves.
“We are playing super-important games every few days. We have a very, very difficult match against Bournemouth, who are very strong at home – they beat Chelsea 4-0 there, remember – then it’s back to the Champions League.
“We have to be focused on the job. In a few weeks, I’m sure there will be time to think about my future and see what’s best for everyone.”