Both Manchester United and Manchester City are reportedly interested in signing Athletic Bilbao’s highly rated French defender Aymeric Laporte. La Liga champions Barcelona have been frequently linked with a move as well.
Bilbao’s remarkable transfer policy of signing players from Basque origin have contributed to their discovery of Laporte, who is only the second Frenchman to play for the club in its entire history.
He is such a talented footballer that sometimes we fail to realise that he is only 21, and is still far from being the finished product. Not only has he cemented a regular starting place for Bilbao, but he has been improving at a tremendous rate.
He is a tall defender but physically very strong. Laporte is a typical ball-playing centre-back with an excellent understanding of the game.
He was susceptible to high ball threats early in his career and often used to misjudge headers as a result. As a result, he had to cover a lot of ground with pace to cover up the mistakes.
Over the years, he has improved remarkably in the ariel department. He has won 50 out of 71 headed duels attempted with an enviable 70% success rate this season, compared to 61% success rate of Chris Smalling, arguably United’s best defender this season, who won 82 headers from 135 attempted.
He boast an outstanding pace, but what stands out in his case is his maturity and fine reading of the game. At such an young age, he is already a leader, who holds a commanding presence at the back.
Laporte has a better tackle-per-game (2) ratio than Smalling (1.8), while the French defender has made more interceptions (4.1) in European games this season than the United defender.
Probably, passing is one area where Laporte needs to improve, but he has age on his side and with time and under proper management, he will come good in that department as well.
Laporte will be a terrific signing for United, but he would not come cheap. Bilbao’s unique transfer policy means they always look to get the best deal out of any transfer. Any top European club will be required to pay €50m, his release clause, to prise him away from San Mames.
Stats courtesy: whoscored, squawaka.