20 Defender Athletic Bilbao France
2014 has been...
…a time the challenge right, accelerate away from the striker and pass the ball sensibly to a midfielder with a minimum of fuss kind of year.
There are certain players that stir the blood at IBWM Towers. As expected these aren’t always the marquee names that have graced the game, we like someone with a bit more cult appeal. One of these is most definitely Bixente Lizarazu so anyone who is following in his footsteps would get very close attention in these parts. Aymeric Laporte is the second French-born Basque to play for Los Leones after Lizarazu, and we think we like him almost as much.
For those who haven’t seen him play he’s a central defender by trade who can also cover at left-back. He’s elegant on the ball, physically imposing when required and has a range of passing most midfielders at his age would kill for. We hate comparison but if you think of Rio Ferdinand at his absolute best (a good few years ago now…) and the elegant way he covered the ground, there’s a line you can draw there. In short he’s very good, so good in fact we’re not convinced he is just 20-years old.
This year has been great to watch. Defenders and goalkeepers need experience to develop and Laporte is getting plenty. He is very comfortable on the ball and with his club’s pressing and passing style he’s very much a round peg in a round hole. He was a huge part in Athletic Bilbao qualifying for the Champion’s League last season and has continued to stand out this time around. He’s got “it”, the indefinable thing that makes you think yeah, he’s going to go far and I’m going to keep watching. A great year (that qualification represented their first for 18 years) we have the dream combination here – a player we love at a club we love who play in a style we love. Dreamy stuff.
As expected there’s a huge amount of clubs watching Laporte with great interest. You name them and they’re watching basically. His club were moved to state any club wishing to buy him needed to start thinking of fees in excess of €30m. While that seems a huge amount of money for a young defender looking around Europe at the standard of defending generally, someone may just get a bargain.
He’s played for France at every level barring a full cap but that will come, he’s too good for it not to, and to be honest the transfer if/when it comes and the spotlight it brings may well help his cause there. This is a player, this a footballer who looks ready now for whatever you want to throw at him now, and we’ll say it again, can he really just be 20-years old?
So we’re big fans, and you should be too. Defenders never become the names that anyone further up the pitch do but this is a star in the making. The transfer will come and we think he’ll hurdle it with not a moment’s bother. An exciting player, an excellent year, we may just have to take the Bixente Lizarazu poster in the IBWM kitchen down sooner than we thought.
"Class, class, and more class. The boy who left his native land because they focused too much on physicality over finesse, is emerging as one of the finest defensive prospects around. Aymeric Laporte was a staple in the defence that helped Athletic Bilbao their first Champions League qualification in 18 years, and he’s continuing that form into the new season. He thrives in the one v one battles, is powerful, but also graceful. He has it all” – David Cartlidge
"Of his 61 career appearances in La Liga, 52 have been for the full 90 minutes." OptaJoe
B Really enjoyable, big, big things ahead, a transfer’s coming to one of the biggest names in Europe, we reckon he’s going to thrive wherever he goes.
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