Manchester City are preparing a sensational £60 million bid for Athletic Bilbao centre back Aymeric Laporte, reports the Daily Mail.
Pep Guardiola is keen to bolster his defence before the end of the month, with only three fully fit centre-halves at his disposal amidst ongoing injury problems with Vincent Kompany.
Nicholas Otamendi and John Stones remain the Spaniard’s first choices, with Elaquim Mangala as a back-up, however Guardiola will reportedly now turn to Laporte in order to add strength in depth to his back line.
The City boss is a long term admirer of the Frenchman, and now could finally land him before the transfer windows closes at the end of January.
Laporte has a reported £60 million release clause in his contract at Athletic – a figure City are willing to pay in order to bring the 23-year-old to the Etihad Stadium.
If City are to conclude a deal then they may have to beat off interest from Chelsea, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United who have all been linked with Laporte in recent months.
Laporte – who is only the second French player (after Bixente Lizarazu) to play for Athletic Bilbao – has been a key figure in the club’s defence over the past few seasons since breaking into the first team in 2012, making 219 appearances and scoring an impressive 10 goals.