Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente watches his diet but is hungry for Champions League and LaLiga titles

“I don’t eat breakfast.” Marcos LlorenteAtletico Madrid midfielder, winner of LaLiga, conqueror of Manchester United and proprietor of most likely the most efficient abs in Spanish soccer — is telling ESPN about the way of life he says made him the participant he’s.

“I eat lunch at 2 p.m., dinner at 9 p.m. Two meals a day. I train without having eaten.”

Training on an empty abdomen with Atletico’s fanatically exact supervisor, Diego Simeone, and infamously not easy health trainer, Oscar “Profe” Ortega, would possibly sound like a nightmare. But Llorente — who arrives for this interview well dressed, impeccably well mannered and punctual — is a persuasive and enthusiastic recommend.

“The other day, coming back from Manchester [after Atletico’s 1-0 Champions League round-of-16 win at Old Trafford on March 15], we had dinner there after the game,” he says. “We caught the plane, I got home at 6 a.m., went to bed, woke up at 1 p.m. and didn’t eat anything until dinnertime. That’s 24 hours without eating. Because that’s what my body wanted.”

“Lunch is something bigger. Dinner is lighter, a vegetable soup or a salad,” he says. “It depends what my body wants. I listen to it. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat.”

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Llorente has all the time been other. The newest product of 1 circle of relatives’s wearing dynasty, his father, grandfather and uncle all performed for Real Madrid, his nice uncle Paco Gento received six European Cups, and his mom used to be a Spain global basketball participant.

As a young person coming via Real Madrid’s academy, and all through his breakout 2016-17 mortgage season at Alaves, he used to be recognized for a single-minded center of attention and strength of mind. His nickname — inherited from his father, Paco — used to be el Lechuga (the Lettuce).

“Since I was little, I’ve had a good diet and I’ve slept well,” he tells ESPN. “I’ve spoken to teammates who didn’t believe in it, and when they started to look after themselves they noticed a massive difference.

“Four or 5 years in the past, they concept it used to be unusual. But over the years they have got all realised it is price it. Nowadays a large number of footballers take care of themselves.”

Llorente earned rave evaluations as a defensive midfielder at Alaves — the place he led the league for ball recoveries — however on his go back, that wasn’t sufficient to cement a spot within the Real Madrid workforce. Then-manager Zinedine Zidane wasn’t satisfied, who prefer Casemiro in that position, and two years later Llorente moved throughout the town to Atletico in July 2019 for what gave the look of a pricey €40m charge.

Midway via a cast debut season, one sport modified the whole thing: March 11, 2020, Atletico’s ultimate fit prior to lockdown, a 3-2 win at Liverpool that dumped the then-champions out of the Champions League within the spherical of 16.

At the time, Llorente’s advent — changing Diego Costa at 1-0 down — seemed a complicated and unfavourable transfer. He spoke back by way of scoring two times and developing a 3rd function in additional time. Reinvented as a marauding attacking midfielder, the important thing guy on one in every of Atletico’s absolute best European nights, he later named his puppy canine Anfield as smartly.

“Marcos never imagined himself being able to play as a forward,” supervisor Simeone mentioned later. “But watching him train, his technical and physical ability and his shooting give us the option … When players show they have the tools, coaches have to pay attention.”

Llorente went directly to be a candidate for LaLiga’s participant of the season in 2020-21, scoring 12 objectives to assist Atletico win their first identify since 2014. Though he is now 27 and theoretically on the subject of his footballing top, the Spaniard is already serious about what comes subsequent.

“A footballer’s career, depending on how lucky you are with injuries, ends sooner or later. At 35, at 37, it’s over,” he tells ESPN. “You have to look for another source of income, but more importantly, a source of entertainment, a source of work. If you lose your goals, you lose your way in life. Some footballers and sportspeople fall into depression when they retire because they have no more objectives, no more dreams.”

Llorente is talking on the Madrid eating place he co-owns — the menu stuffed with gluten-, sugar- and additive-free dishes — one in every of a number of trade ventures he is already pursuing clear of soccer.

“You have to separate what’s ‘fit’ from what’s healthy,” he explains. “Often what’s ‘fit’ isn’t healthy, it’s what doesn’t make you put on weight, what doesn’t have a lot of calories. People add a lot of ingredients that aren’t healthy. They think eating healthily means eating salad, or something a bit boring. It isn’t like that. You can eat a healthy pizza or a healthy waffle … I have my source of carbohydrates, my source of protein, vegetables. I know what I have to eat.”

So that is when to devour and what to devour coated. Presumably that isn’t all it takes to appear to be this?

“You’ll have to train too! Eating good food isn’t enough,” he laughs. “There are five basic pillars: diet, rest, exercise, your head … actually, there are four! Rest is something I look at a lot.”

That contains snoozing in a unique mattress that “creates a bubble that shields you from exposure to electromagnetic emissions through our silver and graphite mesh,” in line with the site of producer Hogo. It’s no marvel the top-of-the-range California king style retails at (gulp) slightly below $40,000. Llorente loves it such a lot that he invested within the corporate and had one shipped to Spain’s Las Rozas coaching base for Euro 2020.

“I sleep 8½ or nine hours a night,” Llorente says. “It’s going to bed early, above all. Sleeping from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. isn’t the same as sleeping from 4 a.m. to 12 p.m.. Going to sleep when the sun goes down, and getting up when the sun comes up, is fundamental.”

Sleeping after Atletico’s win at Old Trafford ultimate month should had been tricky?

“It was very important,” Llorente says, when requested about getting rid of United. “Even more so at that historic stadium … It was important for the team to go through. It gives us strength for what comes next. We knew it was going to be difficult, but the team was convinced that we would at least make things complicated for [United], and that’s what we did.”

What got here subsequent used to be a Champions League quarterfinal with Manchester City. Atletico went into ultimate week’s first leg of their absolute best shape this season: that they had received their earlier six video games, Llorente beginning they all.

That did not forestall Simeone adopting an ultra-defensive (and far criticised) 5-5-0 formation in Manchester. Atletico did not sign in a unmarried shot on or off course in a 1-0 defeat, however what little threat they posed, two breakaway second-half counterattacks, got here when Llorente — all the time other — burst ahead down the best wing.

Turning the tie round in Wednesday’s moment leg on the Wanda Metropolitano could be an success to check their wins at Anfield and Old Trafford. If Atletico are to tug off an dissatisfied, do not doubt for a moment that Llorente shall be on the centre of it.

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