LONDON: Manchester City completed the signing of Aymeric Laporte on Tuesday, taking their spending in the 19 months since Pep Guardiola took charge to more than £450 million ($635 million).
Premier League leaders City are reported to have paid a club record £57 million for Athletic Bilbao defender Laporte, eclipsing the £55 million they paid for Kevin De Bruyne and taking their total outlay on transfer fees under their Spanish coach to £452.4 million. City are bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi United Group, the company owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed.
“I would tell them I understand,” Guardiola said when asked about criticism of City’s spending. “Some clubs spend £300, £400 million on two players. We spend it on six players. We had a problem last summer with six players out of contract. When you want to compete at the highest level, you need to spend.
“Maybe one day this club will spend £100 million or £130 million on one player but we decide not to do it. We understand the inflation of the market. It is what it is. We accept criticism but what matters is our signings perform well and fit in at this club.”
City have made the 23-year-old Laporte the second most expensive defender in history behind Virgil Van Dijk, who cost Liverpool £75 million from Southampton earlier this month. Guardiola has now spent more than £200 million on reinforcing his defense, bringing in Laporte alongside Benjamin Mendy (£52 million), John Stones (£47.5 million) and Kyle Walker (£45 million).
“I am very happy to be here,” Laporte said in a statement on Manchester City’s website . “City are a club with a lot of ambition and they are one of the best teams in Europe.
“I am looking forward to working under Pep Guardiola and trying to help the club to achieve success.”
City boss Guardiola said Laporte was ready to play straight away but may need time to adapt to the Premier League.
“He’s fit, he’s been playing the last period,” Guardiola told reporters. “Of course he has to adapt because the Premier League is special in many senses.
“He is intelligent, he will read what is the situation. Even for English players, when they come into the Premier League it’s always a little bit tough. We will be patient because he doesn’t come for three months, he comes for five years.”
Man City spending by position under Guardiola:
£55.8m — Goalkeepers
£233.1m — Defenders
£114.4m — Midfielders
£49.1m — Forwards