Aymeric Laporte prepares for the Carabao Cup final having already made his mark since his club-record £57.1 million move to Manchester City. The deal saved Laporte’s first club, SU Agen, a tiny lower-tier team in the famous rugby union stronghold in south-west France – his father played rugby not football – where the defender grew up.
Just a few weeks ago Agen faced administration. Now they have received a €650,000 (£573,000) windfall because of the years Laporte spent at the part-time club and with the deal being an international transfer. Under Fifa rules, Agen were due one per cent of the fee paid to Athletic Bilbao and will honour Laporte. “There has been talk about naming a plot of land after me,” the centre-half says. “I was born there, I grew up there, I did everything there so I’m really happy to have been able to help my old club, especially with them having financial difficulties.”
Laporte is looking for another honour – his first with City, having finally joined the club in the January transfer window, 18 months after Pep Guardiola earmarked him as a priority recruit. At that time, the move fell through. In a sign of his strength of character it was the 23-year-old who pulled the plug. “I was injured and I didn’t think it was the right moment for me to come here,” Laporte explains. “The injury complicated things a bit but I knew that if I kept working hard, the chance would come as City knew the potential I had. I know what I have to do and what I had to work on.”
That shows the Frenchman’s confidence, as does his explanation of his style of play – and his belief that his move to City can help him to force his way into the France World Cup squad because, despite his ability and impressive performances in La Liga, he is yet to be capped.
“I like to think of myself as a modern defender rather than an old-school one,” Laporte says. “I’m trying to evolve with how football is going but the truth is I like the style of playing the ball out from the back and hitting long passes.
“And, yes, I hope to go to the World Cup. I know I have a chance but I must focus on what remains of the season and carrying on playing well, in both the Premier League and the Champions League.”
Guardiola would appear the perfect coach for a player such as Laporte, who also worked under the legendary Marcelo Bielsa at Bilbao. Guardiola, who regarded the Argentine as something of a mentor, even described him as “the best coach in world” and Laporte says he could not have been given two better tutors.
Aymeric Laporte: I was right to turn down Pep Guardiola and Man City the first time
The Telegraph | Feb 25