Chelsea have reportedly joined the summer race for Athletic Bilbao superstar Aymeric Laporte and are set to battle Manchester City for the defender.
ESPN have claimed that Chelsea have expressed interest in bringing Athletic Bilbao superstar Aymeric Laporte over to Stamford Bridge in the summer. The Frenchman – highly rated in Europe – has been linked heavily with an exit from the Basque club for a few seasons now and perhaps this summer could be a defining one for the defender.
Aymeric Laporte is another academy graduate of Athletic Bilbao’s youth setup to establish himself firmly in the first-team. All of 22, the player has amassed 191 senior appearances for the La Liga outfit and has attracted interest from the very best of Europe in almost every transfer window.
His consistent performances have continued this season, with the player appearing in 32 of Bilbao’s 36 league games. The player was linked very heavily with a move to Manchester City last summer, with Pep Guardiola an admirer of the defender.
The move failed to materialise, though, as the Citizens opted to sign John Stones. However, the club has failed to alleviate their defensive struggles despite the addition of Stones. While the Englishman is considered a guaranteed one-half at the heart of the defence, Guardiola is looking to add another centre-back to support the former Everton man.
Conte wants to start his summer squad strengthening programme at Chelsea by signing Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte [ESPN FC]
— Chelsea (@ouggi) May 10, 2017
And as per the report, Guardiola and his current employers are still admirers of Laporte and could renew their interest in the summer. However, Chelsea have now entered the scene as well, with Antonio Conte looking to add to his defensive unit, especially with John Terry set to depart at the end of the season.
There have been rumours linking Kurt Zouma to an exit as well, which would deplete the unit even further – something Conte cannot afford especially with the club set to dip their toes back in Champions League football.
Laporte’s towering presence would add to the strength from set-pieces, both defensive and offensive, at Stamford Bridge and the player, too, would love to be a part of a team which would offer him regular football along with a chance to compete for honours in both domestic and European competitions.
The aforementioned reason could also tip the hat in Chelsea’s favour, especially with Manchester City’s Champions League qualification still in doubt.
Both the clubs, though, would have to shell out a chunk of cash in order to land Laporte, who, at 22, would become a great long-term option for any team he opts to join in the summer or sometime in the coming transfer windows.