European Champions Real Madrid are interested in signing Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte as a long term replacement of Pepe.

Aymeric Laporte, 20, is widely recognized as one of the brightest young defenders of world football and the youngster is attracting the interest from host of Europe’s big clubs.

Pepe, who is a regular starter for Real Madrid alongwith Sergio Ramos, in the heart of Lons Blancos’ defence, is in the twilight of his career. Real Madrid management has already started looking for the replacement of the Portuguese international and Aymeric Laporte is on top of their wish list.

Athletic Bilbao, who qualified for the Champions League because of their top 4 finish, are struggling badly in La Liga this season but 20 year old Aymeric Laporte has performed consistently well for them this season.

Athletic Bilbao are certain to miss out on Champions League income next season, which is going to force them sale one of their star players to generate some much needed money.

Real Madrid authorities are well aware of this fact and they believe that he could be lured away from Athletic Bilbao during the summer transfer window.

Meanwhile, reports coming from Spain have also confirmed the interest of Real Madrid in Aymeric Laporte.

Pro-Real Madrid daily Marca has claimed in its report that Real Madrid are out for Aymeric Laporte, Athletic Bilbao’s 20-year-old French international. The Bilbao club are aware of the interest from ‘Los Blancos’ but do not want to enter into negotiations. The central defender is not for sale and the club president, Josu Urrutia’s response to anyone that comes sniffing around for the player is unerringly consistent; they should all refer to the players release clause: €42 million.

Asier Illaramendi, who was signed by Real Madrid in 2013 for 32 million euros, has failed to impress Carlo Ancelotti and is certain to leave the club either this month or in July.

Athletic Bilbao are keeping a close eye on the situation of Real Madrid as they are interested in Illaramendi. Athletic Bilbao have even made a formal loan offer to Real Madrid for Illaramendi but it is believed that the Los Blancos have asked an assurance from the Basque club about Aymeric Laporte.

Real Madrid management has made up their mind about selling Pepe in summer and invest in a bright young prospect like Aymeric Laporte.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid coach, believes that Raphael Varane, alongwith Aymeric Laporte, could form an excellent defencive partnership at the heart of defence which could benefit the club in years to come.