Report: Manchester City renews interest in Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City is once again considering a move for Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte in an effort to reinforce Pep Guardiola’s ranks at centre-back, sources told Jonathan Smith of ESPN FC.

The highly touted 23-year-old was linked to a move to the Etihad Stadium in summer 2016, but instead penned a new four-year deal with Athletic Bilbao, which included an initial buyout clause set at €65 million (£57 million).

City is reportedly looking to complete a deal in January to avoid a potential price increase in the summer. Laporte’s buyout clause would automatically rise to €70 million in 2018-19.

Paired with Unai Nunez at centre-back, Laporte has been an instrumental part of Athletic Bilbao’s backline this season, bouncing back well from a leg fracture that required surgery and ruled him out of Euro 2016.

He has featured 30 times thus far in the 2017-18 campaign, scoring once in a Europa League qualifier against Dinamo Bucharest. With his help, Athletic Bilbao has conceded just 22 times, good for joint seventh-fewest goals against in La Liga over 20 matches.

However, a lack of clinical scoring leaves the team sitting 12th in the league table.

Despite his prodigious club form, Laporte has yet to receive an international cap with the France senior national team, though he was called up for a pair of World Cup qualifying fixtures and featured 19 times for the French Under-21 team. He is also eligible to play for Spain, and admitted in October that he has not closed the door on representing La Furia Roja.

While City hopes to complete a quick deal, the club is reportedly working on other moves as well. Guardiola’s side has also been linked to Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred.

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