MANCHESTER CITY completed the signing of French Center Back Aymeric Laporte on January 30. A day later, the former Athletic Bilbao defender found himself in Manchester City’s starting XI to face West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.
Man City paid Athletic Bilbao €65 million – the release clause attached to Laporte’s contract, thereby making him the club’s most expensive defender ever.
His arrival has been hastened by a long-term injury to left-back Benjamin Mendy, who is still some weeks away from starting again and Fabian Delph was employed in his position.
But an injury to Delph meant a longer-term replacement was required. Laporte is that man.
After the 3-0 win against West Brom Guardiola was quoted saying - “The people who said he was too expensive will eventually say he was pretty cheap,” “He’s done 45 minutes of training, I put him in and watched him play. I kept saying: ‘Wow! What a defender!’”
Laporte was brought up playing both football and rugby, so has grown used to carrying bumps and bruises common in English Football.
He is very fit and very rarely misses games, Apart from his heartbreaking leg injury in March 2016, which ended his hopes of playing that summer’s European Championship in his homeland, Laporte has never suffered from any major injury and it has been close to a whole year since he last missed a game due to injury.
At just 23 years of age, he brings a good deal of top-flight experience. He made his first-team debut way back in 2012 under Marcelo Bielsa, whose offensive style is similar to that of Guardiola, meaning Laporte should be able to get used to Pep’s system with relative ease.
Given his similarities to John Stones, who continues to suffer occasional lapses, it is no surprise that questions have been raised as to whether they can both hope to play together.
As one might expect of a Guardiola player, Laporte is comfortable with the ball at his feet and is technically very able. Defensively, he is a good reader of the game well and his pace makes him useful at recovering ground, allowing him to make the crucial last-ditch tackles.
For Laporte, this move can be his Entry ticket into the France national Side. With the World Cup looming, head coach, Didier Deschamps will be keen to explore numerous options.
Laporte has the versatility and quality to play at international level, and now with a club like City, he has the opportunity to show that he has the mentality to play on the biggest stage. Moreover, at the Premier League champions-elect, he will also enjoy more visibility in the spotlight than was possible at Athletic.
Deschamps is notorious for waiting until players are at the biggest sides before fully integrating them into his squads, with Lyon duo Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso overlooked for so long until they switched to Arsenal and Bayern Munich respectively last summer. Laporte is liable to receive similar treatment.
Laporte has already set about making waves in England and after rapidly impressing Guardiola for City, it is only a matter of time before Deschamps takes notice too.
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