Pep Guardiola continues defensive revolution with Laporte signing

Aymeric Laporte has joined Manchester City from Athletic Bilbao
Aymeric Laporte has joined Manchester City from Athletic Bilbao
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Aymeric Laporte has completed his club record move from Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City, the Premier League club have announced.

The 23-year-old French defender has signed a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium after City paid his buy-out clause of around £57million.

The fee paid eclipses the £54million City paid for Kevin De Bruyne in 2015 and also makes him the second-most expensive defender in the world after Liverpool’s £75million signing Virgil van Dijk.

Laporte told the club’s website: “I am very happy to be here. City are a club with a lot of ambition and they are one of the best teams in Europe.

“I am looking forward to working under Pep Guardiola and trying to help the club to achieve success.

“It means a lot that the club have shown faith in me and I am excited to get started.”

Guardiola, who spoke to media at a press conference to preview Wednesday’s Premier League game against West Brom, is pleased with his latest squad addition.

Laporte will add strength to a central defensive department which has appeared light due to captain Vincent Kompany’s fitness issues and the inconsistencies of Eliaquim Mangala. He will challenge current first-choice pairing John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi for places.

Guardiola said: “He is a young player, 23, 24 years old. He is left-footed, central defender, he has played since a young age in LaLiga, on the biggest stages.

“He is strong in the air, fast, good quality with the pass, so I am delighted, happy and grateful for what the club has done.”

City previously tried to sign Laporte, who is a France Under-21 international, soon after Guardiola’s arrival in the summer of 2016 but the player did not think the move was right at that time.

Guardiola said: “In that time it was not possible because he decided to remain in Bilbao.

“We spoke with the club and said we needed a centre-back in summertime, but we still have a lot of games to play and decided to try and bring him right now.

“Our summer window will now be easier because this is already done.”

Guardiola said he did not know if the deal was completed in time for Laporte to be available to face West Brom at the Etihad Stadium but feels he is physically ready.

He said: “He is fit, he has been playing the last period so I think he is ready. Of course he has to adapt, the Premier League is special in many senses, but I think he is intelligent and he will read the situation.”

City have also been linked with a move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred but Guardiola suggested no further signings were likely before Wednesday’s transfer deadline.

He said: “I don’t know. I don’t think so but in football everything can happen. I am 95-99 per cent that nothing is going happen.”

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