Search form

Last updated: 52 sec ago

You are here


Aymeric Laporte looking to start his Manchester City trophy collection

Manchester city's $81 million star Aymeric Laporte.
MANCHESTER: Growing up in a rugby-loving French town, it would have been expected for Aymeric Laporte to follow in his father’s footsteps and develop a similar sporting passion.
But his life has not been one to follow the norm since he was a youngster in Agen — and tough decisions have instead shaped a footballing career that now looks set to reach greater heights.
Laporte will step out at Wembley today in the Carabao Cup Final against Arsenal as Manchester City’s record signing following a £58 million ($81 million) move from Athletic Bilbao.
The 23-year-old had been with the Basque club since 2010, rejected City two years ago, and declared his intent to play for France’s national team despite being coveted by Spain.
And the classy, yet strong center-back recalled how the journey began as he said: “I never played rugby, but my father played in the French Second Division.
“He didn’t want me to play rugby because it was very, very hard on the body. And so at school, I picked up my love for football and the rest is history.
“I’ve spent my whole life playing football with my friends and family. Since I was a kid, I’ve just been used to having a ball at my feet. I like to think of myself as a modern defender rather than an old-school one.
“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.”
It was those qualities that saw City pursue Laporte again in January. A broken ankle for France Under-21s meant he decided to stay at Bilbao in 2016 and he said: “I was injured and I didn’t think it was the right moment for me to come here.
“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.”
Manager Pep Guardiola’s presence was key this time, while he added: “Then I looked at the team and there are so many young players a similar age to myself. That was a major factor in my thinking.”
Having learned his trade under former Argentina and Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa at Bilbao, Laporte is hoping his game develops further with Guardiola.
“The two of them just know so much about the game,” he said. “They’re different personalities and managers but in terms of learning and training, I couldn’t ask for two better. The learning process is amazing.
“Bielsa brought laptops onto the training pitch and showed us videos of where to be on the pitch in terms of position.
“They were strange little things, but that’s why we learned a lot under him. My current manager doesn’t bring laptops out on to the training pitch. It’s a different method, but it’s just as valid.
“I have already learned a lot from Pep in the short time I’ve been here.”
Laporte is lauded in Agen for his sporting achievements, but also for helping to save his boyhood club from administration as FIFA player development rules meant they received a 1 percent (£580,000) fee as a result of his transfer.
“I was born there, I grew up there, I did everything there so obviously I’m really happy to have been able to help my old club, especially with them having financial difficulties,” he said.
“I received calls from the local council congratulating me on my move to City and thanking me for what it had done for the club.
“There has been talk about naming a plot of land after me, but I don’t know exactly what.”
More accolades will surely follow should he develop into the great player that many predict.
A first trophy with Premier League leaders City — and for Guardiola since his arrival in 2016 — is his immediate target, though, as he added: “Winning a trophy would definitely help the development of the team.
“It would be great to get a trophy under our belts and then focus again on the league and try to maintain the distance between us and second place and win that at some stage.”