French defender Aymeric Laporte has been identified as a potential January target by Arsenal and Manchester United.

Both Arsenal and Manchester United have had defensive problems this season and are believed to be in the market for a central defender. Both clubs have faced several problems due to injury woes in the defensive department. Failing to keep a clean sheet has been a big problem for both the Premier League clubs. So far, this season, both Arsenal and Manchester United have only managed to keep clean sheets in two out of nine league games with Arsenal conceding 11 goals and Manchester United conceding 13.

According to reports from Spain, The Express has claimed that the Athletic Bilbao defender has been identified by both Arsene Wenger and Louis Van Gaal as they look to strengthen their respective defences in the upcoming transfer window. At only 20 years of age, Laporte is already a vital player for Bilbao. The French defender is one of the few exceptions who does not hail from the Basque region and yet is a part of the Spanish club. He has so far played every minute of Athletic’s season in both La Liga and the Champions League. Laporte has also made 8 appearance for the France under-21 team and a senior team call-up seems to be inevitable for the defender.

The release clause of the defender is believed to be close to £32 million which may act as a barrier for Arsenal and Manchester United. If any of the clubs release the clause and sign Laporte, the fee will be equivalent to what Manchester City paid for Eliuquim Mangala, who is the Premier League’s most expensive defender.

Laporte is a bag full of talent and seems like a very exciting prospect for both Arsenal and Manchester United. At 20-years of age, Laporte has a lot of promise in him and is bound to be a solid defender in the coming future. However, the £32 million price tag makes the move questionable. While both Arsenal and Manchester United have had a tough time handling injuries to their defenders, the addition of Laporte will give them a great option.

Aymeric Laporte has featured in all the Champions League matches for Athletic Bilbao so far, which will make him ineligible to play in the competition for Arsenal should he join in the second half of the season. That will not be a problem for Manchester United, as they failed to qualify for this season’s competition.

Verdict – A great bet for the long-term, Laporte, if he should come to the Premier League is a great prospect for both Arsenal and Manchester United. However, signing him in January makes little sense for Arsenal considering the Frenchman will not be able to feature in the Champions League. On the other hand, if Manchester United are ready to meet the defender’s release clause, Van Gaal should go ahead and waste no time in bringing the youngster on board.