Aymeric Laporte looking to start his Manchester City trophy collection

Manchester city's $81 million star Aymeric Laporte.
Updated 25 February 2018
0

Aymeric Laporte looking to start his Manchester City trophy collection

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.”


NBA fracas, Jose Mourinho's antics prove action needed to prevent rise of violence in sport

Updated 22 October 2018
0

NBA fracas, Jose Mourinho's antics prove action needed to prevent rise of violence in sport

  • In LeBron James’ home debut for the Lakers, he ended up playing peacemaker, not play-maker
  • Sport stars are extremely wealthy individuals and the vast majority of fines issued by sporting governing bodies are a drop in the ocean

LONDON: The NBA has become one of the most popular competitions in the world in recent years, with the likes of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James becoming global superstars.
As a product it is slick, glamorous and boasts celebrity fans, from the rap world to Hollywood royalty.
But the glitzy facade was shattered on Saturday when the Lakers-Rockets game descended into chaos, with both teams getting caught up in an ugly melee. Someone claimed to be spat on, punches were thrown, and three players had to be ejected from the game as the unruliness spilled over into the crowd.
In LeBron James’ home debut for the Lakers, he ended up playing peacemaker, not play-maker. Afterwards, no one was talking about his performance or the fact his team lost again. The result seemed almost irrelevant.
That fracas came hours after tension on the touchline in the Chelsea vs. Manchester United Premier League clash saw United boss Jose Mourinho lose his cool and need to be restrained in an ill-tempered scuffle with a Chelsea coach. And earlier this month, the hotly anticipated MMA match-up between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor witnessed disgraceful scenes as both fighters got involved in fights with each other’s coaching teams in the aftermath of the bout.
Unwarranted violence and aggression are becoming commonplace in sport, and yet it seems to be tolerated more and more.
What will happen in these cases?
Likely a short suspension here, a nominal fine there. Certainly less than the repercussions would be if similar behavior occurred on the streets away from sporting arenas.

Sport stars are extremely wealthy individuals and the vast majority of fines issued by sporting governing bodies are a drop in the ocean. Likewise, weeks-long suspensions seem scant punishment for actions that would see most other people fired.

Top-level sportspeople are also role-models to millions of people. What sort of message does it send to young people striving to reach the top of their chosen sport when they see those already there appearing to be given a free rein to behave inappropriately with impunity? Sport has enormous power in society, and means a lot to many people. It should be setting an example.
As such, it is about time sporting authorities started handing out punishments that fit the transgressions: Banning individuals for months and years rather than weeks, or issuing fines to the tune of a whole season’s wage. Firms must pull out of multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals instantly.
Nobody balked at the year-long bans for cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner for ball-tampering earlier this year. It was welcomed.
It may seem an overreaction, but something has to be done to deter the sort of behavior seen at the Staples Center, Stamford Bridge or in Las Vegas for the good of professional sport.