Manchester City look set to hijack arch rivals Manchester United’s transfer target Aymeric Laporte, as reports from Spain reveal that Pep Guardiola is prepared to match Athletic Bilbao’s asking price of £39 million.

 

The Sky Blues had several problems in defence over the course of last season which severely hampered their Premier League title challenge. Manuel Pellegrini’s men conceded 41 goals from 38 league matches — too high a number by their lofty standards.

In an effort to boost the Manchester City defence, incoming manager Pep Guardiola has made Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte one of his top transfer targets. The Catalan manager is prepared to part with £39 million in order to land the French youngster, according to Spanish outlet Cadena SER [via TalkSport].

Manchester City have suffered for most of the recently concluded campaign due to captain Vincent Kompany’s recurrent injury problems. Pellegrini was forced to play Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala. However, without their leader, the City defence completely capitulated on more than one occasion when faced with a challenge.

Guardiola is said to have been impressed by Laporte’s performances over the course of the season and wants to bring the Frenchman to the Etihad Stadium. However, Manchester City may face competition for the young centre-half from arch rivals Manchester United, who are known to be interested in the player. Jose Mourinho will also be looking for centre-backs this summer, with Daley Blind unlikely to continue alongside Chris Smalling next season.

Is Guardiola taking a risk with Laporte?

Bayern Munich press conference
Laporte is one of the best young defenders Guardiola will find in Europe at the moment. The 22-year-old centre-back is very good on the ball — an important factor for the team’s build up play under Guardiola — but is also solid defensively, making almost two tackles and 3.5 clearances every game.

However, Laporte’s season was brought to a end after he suffered a broken leg and a dislocated ankle while on international duty. While he is set to return from his injuries in around 20 days, it will be interesting to see whether Laporte can still perform at the same level.

His long-term injury means that it would be a huge risk for Manchester City to spend so much on Laporte. The Citizens would perhaps be better advised to look for cheaper options in the transfer market.

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