Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Laporte excited to work with Guardiola after completing record City switch

Premier League leaders paid Athletic Bilbao £57million to make him the second-most expensive defender in the world after Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

Manchester City’s new record signing Aymeric Laporte has revealed the chance to work with Pep Guardiola was key to his move to the Etihad Stadium.

The French defender completed his switch from Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday after City paid his £57million buy-out clause.

The fee eclipses the £54million City paid for Kevin De Bruyne in 2015 and also makes him the second-most expensive defender in the world after Liverpool’s £75million signing of Virgil van Dijk.

bpanews_35002976-9224-4536-afee-1aeef24763a4_embedded247922
Aymeric Laporte has signed for Manchester City

He joins a club 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and still alive in three cup competitions under the inspirational leadership of former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Guardiola.

The 23-year-old, who has signed a five-year contract, told City TV: “I have always followed him, when he was with other clubs as well. I have always been fascinated by him, especially when I have had the chance to watch him.

“We both have the same style of play, so that’s great. Obviously having Pep Guardiola as manager of your team changes lots of things. He is a very prestigious manager and we must take advantage of that to learn and to improve.”

Laporte will add strength to a central defensive department which has appeared light due to captain Vincent Kompany’s fitness issues and the inconsistencies of Eliaquim Mangala. He will challenge John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, who have formed an effective partnership this season, for a place.

Guardiola said: “He is a young player, 23, 24 years old. He is left-footed, central defender, he has played since a young age in LaLiga, on the biggest stages.

“He is strong in the air, fast, good quality with the pass, so I am delighted, happy and grateful for what the club has done.”

City previously tried to sign Laporte, who is a France Under-21 international, soon after Guardiola’s arrival in the summer of 2016 but the player did not think the move was right at that time.

Guardiola said: “In that time it was not possible because he decided to remain in Bilbao.

“We spoke with the club and said we needed a centre-back in summertime, but we still have a lot of games to play and decided to try and bring him right now.

“Our summer window will now be easier because this is already done.”

Guardiola said he did not know if the deal was completed in time for Laporte to be available to face West Brom at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday but feels he is physically ready.

He said: “He is fit, he has been playing the last period so I think he is ready.

“Of course he has to adapt, the Premier League is special in many senses, but I think he is intelligent and he will read the situation.”

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph