LNTUP

Chelsea and Manchester City to battle it out for Laporte

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Reports suggest Man City and Chelsea have locked horns to sign Bilbao Centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte is set to be the subject of a summer battle with Chelsea and Manchester City have joined the fray.

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Aymeric Laporte, the former France Under-21 international, is regarded as one of the best young centre-backs in the world. His composure on the ball is highly appreciated by football pundits. His ball-playing quality has made him the perfect example of a modern defender.

Laporte was heavily linked with Manchester City throughout the last summer transfer window. Pep Guardiola is a big admirer of the 22-year-old. Laporte’s ball-playing quality, along with his versatility caught the eye of the Catalan.

Guardiola wanted to partner Laporte with John Stones and personally tried to persuade him to join Manchester City.

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But in the end Laporte decided to extend his contract at the San Memes until 2019-20 season. He has a €65m release clause in his new contract which would rise to €70m from 2018-19 season.

Now ESPN FC reports that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is determined to lock horns with Guardiola for Laporte’s signature. With John Terry set to leave the club after 19 wonderful years, and Gary Cahill not becoming any younger, Conte has made Laporte one of his top targets for the upcoming season. The Italian tactician believes that Laporte has the quality to strengthen his squad for the next season when we will see Chelsea back in the Champions League.

Laporte has been in Bilbao since he was 16 years of age. He is one of the Bilbao academy graduates who successfully cemented his place in the starting XI. Laporte has 192 senior appearances under his belt for Bilbao. This season he has appeared in 32 games in Bilbao’s 36 league matches and also has 6 appearances in the Europa League.

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Buying Basque players from Athletic Bilbao is a very hard nut to crack. We have prior examples in the likes of Javi Martinez and Ander Herrera where Bayern Munich and Manchester United respectively had to pay the full release-clause to get the players. So expect some twists and turns in the Laporte transfer saga before it reaches its conclusion.