Tuesday 20 February 2018

Man City line up £39m defender Aymeric Laporte as Pep Guardiola squad overhaul continues

Aymeric Laporte has impressed against players like Neymar Credit: EPA
Aymeric Laporte has impressed against players like Neymar Credit: EPA

Manchester City, having signed German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan for £20 million, are ready to activate the £39 million release clause in Aymeric Laporte’s contract with Athletic Bilbao.

The 22-year-old French defender will be sidelined until August because of a broken leg and dislocated ankle but is understood to be a main transfer target for new City manager Pep Guardiola.

Laporte has stepped up his training in recent weeks and although Bilbao are ready to offer him an improved contract, he is believed to be keen to join Guardiola’s revolution at the Etihad.

Laporte, who has been at the Basque club since he was 16, is a predominantly left-footed player and is rated as one of the best young defenders in the world.

Guardiola is also keen to sign Everton and England defender John Stones but is likely to face competition from Manchester United, Chelsea and Barcelona.

Gundogan’s signature, on a four-year contract, was confirmed on City’s official Twitter feed.

The 25-year-old, who is ruled out of Euro 2016 due to a knee injury, said: “Hello City fans. You have been tweeting me for a long time and now I officially announce that I am a Manchester City player. Hope to see you soon.”

Gundogan, who made 157 appearances for Bundesliga giants Dortmund over a five-year spell, added on mcfc.co.uk: “I’m thrilled to have signed for Manchester City. I have loved my time with Borussia Dortmund and I would like to thank the club and the supporters for the five very happy years I spent there.

“The opportunity to work with a coach like Pep Guardiola is something I am really looking forward to and I am flattered to be the first signing the club has made this summer.”

Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, said: “Ilkay is an intelligent and versatile midfielder who can operate in a number of different roles. I think our supporters will enjoy his work ethic and technical ability.”

Gundogan has won 16 caps for Germany, scoring four goals.

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