Aymeric Laporte looking to start his Manchester City trophy collection
Aymeric Laporte looking to start his Manchester City trophy collection
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.”
World Cup live: Saudi Arabia 0 Uruguay 1
7.36PM: It's the Saudi Arabia fans we can hear in the stadium in Rostov...they believe. And they're urging their Green Falcons on to find this equalizer...
7.28PM: Saudi Arabia are doing their bit to keep the score close, but if we're being honest - this is not the Uruguay team we have come to know and...become acquainted with... over the years.
A poor showing from the South Americans in this World Cup so far, especially as they were many people's "dark horses" for the trophy...
7.20PM: We've had some fantastic games at this World Cup so far, it's safe to say that this is not one of them...both sides seem content with the status quo - Uruguay for the three points, Saudi Arabia to avoid another humiliating defeat...
7.08PM: Into the second half, the game has drifted into the realms of 'midfield stalemate' at this point, but the Saudi Arabia fans are keeping the faith...
Saudi Arabia really stepped it up today. Unlucky to concede, they've been the better team— Future Inkling Main (@RamziJuve) June 20, 2018
6.47PM: HALFTIME - Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0 - something to work with for the Green Falcons. But they must be more clinical in the final third when they manage to get that far up the pitch...
6.39PM: Saudi Arabia trying to wrest back control of this game, especially in the middle of the pitch. Russian fans will be cheering for Uruguay, as if it stays like this, the host nation will qualify for the last-16. They're even showing the match live on the famous Moscow Metro trains...
6.30PM: Uruguay took their time to come into the game, but one lapse at the back from Saudi Arabia and there was Barcelona talisman Suarez to tap it home. Uphill struggle for Saudi Arabia now, who in 120 minutes of football at this World Cup, have had just one shot on target...
6.25PM: GOAL - Luis Suarez scores from a corner with a deft finish, it's his 52nd goal for Uruguay...
6.20PM: Uruguay haven't clicked here so far, and Saudi Arabia are holding their own. They are passing and moving much better than last Thursday and they are stopping any potential Uruguay break from the off. A marked improvement from Pizzi's team...
6.12PM: Phil Neville, former Manchester United and England defender on BBC: "Saudi Arabia have actually started this game very brightly. They had a quick corner that Uruguay weren't prepared for there, but the ball in just lacked quality."
6:08PM: A much brighter start from Saudi Arabia in this game than against Russia, the fans are hopeful of a better Green Falcons showing too...
Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia gonna be one of those games where we think Suarez and Cavani will score 8 each but instead it'll be tight?— • (@zonalmista) June 20, 2018
6:00PM: We're under way - Saudi Arabia must improve from that Russia game, let's see how the fare early on...
5:50PM: All smiles from Saudi players before the game...they're on their way out now in this crucial game, kick-off just a few minutes away...
5.45PM: Saudi Arabia Starting XI: Al-Owais, Al-Breik, Osama Hawsawi, Al Bulaihi, Al-Shahrani, Bahbir, Al-Faraj, Otayf, Al-Jassam, Al Dawsari, Al-Muwallad.
Saudi Arabia make four changes after their 5-0 opening-night hammering against Russia.
Goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf is left out, meaning Mohammed Al-Owais comes in. Elsewhere, Ali Albulayhi starts in the back four, while Hatan Bahbri moves into midfield and Fahad Almuwallad is in to lead the attack.
Pizzi spoke of his "feeling of shame" in the wake of their Russian nightmare. Expect Saudi Arabia to come out with all guns blazing...
5.40PM: Uruguay Starting XI: Muslera, Varela, Gimenez, Godin, Caceres, Sanchez, Vecino, Bentancur, Rodriguez, Suarez, Cavani.
5.30PM: Just last Thursday, Saudi Arabia were thrashed by Russia. Now in the way of the Green Falcons is Uruguay - who boast one of the most fearsome frontlines in world football in Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez. Everyone believes Uruguay will win, there's no pressure on Juan Antonio Pizzi's men. Can they cause a monumental upset? Join us, to find out...