21 Defender Athletic Bilbao France
Silky, elegant and what one of the IBWM editing team would call “pure gravy” (in a good way), we were really, really impressed by Laporte last year. How’s his 2015 been? We’ll not spoil it, but we were effusive in our praise in the 2014 review and [spoilers] we could’ve copy and pasted that this time around. Undoubtedly one of the best young defenders in world football, we hate comparison but we stand by the line we said you can draw between Laporte and Rio Ferdinand at their respective bests.
2015 has been…
…a case of 2 + 2 = Barcelona?
Most of the column inches devoted to Aymeric Laporte in the last twelve months have involved his future. He has already reached a level of consistency on the pitch where nobody is worried in that respect, and so talk has turned to where he goes after Bilbao. They will be desperate to keep him for as long as possible and managed to ward off several suitors in the summer by giving him a new contract with a reported €50m release clause inserted.
However, as he’s continued to be consistently excellent, feisty and afraid of no one on the pitch, throughout the year there have been movements that suggest a change is coming. The release clause was apparently a condition of extending the deal and €50m can be classed (in the crazy world of football anyway) as a realistic fee rather than something ridiculously high to stop anyone making a move. He’s also moved representation to come under Carlos Puyol’s new agency in the future and already there have been several stories that the deal with Barcelona is all but signed for next year.
So this year, football-wise, has been really good but that’s been the least interesting part of the story. This is a Rolls-Royce of a defender, as close to a sure thing as you get on this list in truth.
Manchester United would pay his release clause and bring him to the club tomorrow, as would Chelsea and a host of others if you believe everything you read in the papers. Truth is, it does feel like that Barcelona deal is agreed and it makes a good degree of sense. This is a defender who is as good on the ball as he is doing the dirty work, perhaps the man they need to replace his future agent long term.
This whole issue could well be dated by the time the January transfer window ends as something could be announced for the summer. If it is the last barrier to break will be the full French international side but there’s stiff competition ahead there. Can he get past the likes of Sakho, Zouma, Varane and Koscielny? In a word; yes.
B The real deal, that big move’s coming this summer and he’s going to take it all in his stride
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