A big blow for Pep Guardiola as Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte has rejected the chance to join Manchester City and has instead signed a new contract with the Basque side until 2020. Laporte’s new contract now has a release clause set at £51.5m, which will rise to £55m in 2018.
The French defender had been ready to move to Manchester in a £39 million deal worth a reputed £6.3m a season but he has turned it down to stay in Spain and become the best-paid player in Athletic’s history on a more modest £4m a year.
Laporte is out until September with a broken leg and dislocated ankle but has recently resumed light training and has been long reported to be one of Guardiola’s requested targets for the summer.
Manchester City I am sure will try and spin this that they were worried about Laporte’s injury but the fact that Txiki Begiristain, the club’s sporting director, and the chief executive Ferran Soriano could not close the deal has to be worrying to Guardiola.
So what for City? In recent years City have spent big on central defenders Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala but neither have convinced in their Premier League appearances.
City have been strongly linked with a move for Everton defender John Stones but he could cost £20 million MORE than Laporte. The Champions League semi-finalists have also been linked with Brazilian defender Marquinhos from Paris Saint Germain, but he will not be cheap either.
City will bring in at least one central defender this summer, the question is the cost. While money is not an option for City, if a central defender costs £20m more than was budgeted, that usually means that you have less to spend bringing in reinforcements for other positions.
Will Begiristain and Soriano blunder mean that City miss out on a big summer target like Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang?