Man City splash $80m on Laporte
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Manchester City signed France Under-21 international Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for a club-record fee of 65 million euros ($80 million) yesterday, taking its spending on centre backs since 2014 to about $250 million.
The 23-year-old Laporte came close to joining City in 2016 when Pep Guardiola took charge of the current Premier League leaders but backed out of the move after feeling the Frenchman wasn't quite ready.
Eighteen months later, City clinched the signing of the left-footed, ball-playing defender after meeting his buy-out clause, strengthening the team's options in what has been a problem position for Guardiola and previous managers.
"He's strong in the air, good quality with the pass. He is experienced, fast and he has the skills we need," Guardiola said. "He is the perfect age, 23 years old, so hopefully he will have a long career here at Manchester City."
Laporte is the second most expensive defender in soccer history, with only Virgil van Dijk - who joined Liverpool from Southampton for 75 million pounds ($100 million) at the start of January costing more.
Since City won their most recent Premier League title in 2014, Eliaquim Mangala has arrived from FC Porto for a reported 42 million pounds and Nicolas Otamendi joined from Valencia for 32 million pounds in 2015. Another centre back, John Stones, cost an initial 47.5 million pounds in 2016.
Vincent Kompany, the club's other centre back, has been at City since 2008 and is the captain. But the Belgium international might be surplus to requirements from next season, especially considering his injury record.
City also spent about 120 million pounds (then $155 million) on three fullbacks - Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo - in the last transfer window.
"Last summer we had a problem, with six or seven players out of contract and over 30 years old, so we needed to make a change," Guardiola said. "We decided to sign four or five different players and at this stage, Manchester City, when you want to compete at the highest level, you need to spend.
"One day, maybe this club will spend 130-200 million pounds on one player. So far, we haven't had to do that."