Highly-regarded French defender Aymeric Laporte could become runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City’s record signing according to British media reports on Thursday.
The 23-year-old centre-back – who has been at Athletic Bilbao since he was 16 – would cost City £57million ($81million) owing to a release clause in his contract at Bilbao but would resolve a problematic area for manager Pep Guardiola where veteran Vincent Kompany is injury-prone and Frenchman Eliaquim Mangala has not impressed.
Laporte – whose move reportedly would be dependent on Mangala moving on – would provide cover for present first-choice pairing England international John Stones and Argentinian Nicolas Otamendi.
According to The Sun and the BBC, Guardiola favours investing that amount in Laporte – who has yet to win a senior France cap though he was called up for two 2018 World Cup qualifiers – than spending around £24million on rivals West Bromwich Albion’s 30-year-old Northern Irish central defender Jonny Evans.
City’s current transfer record is £55million. They paid VfL Wolfsburg for Belgian international Kevin de Bruyne in 2015.