Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has been on the lookout for a new centre-back this month, and it appears that he has finally found his player in Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Bilbao.
According to Sky Sports, City are considering triggering the £60m release clause for the French defender. The report mentions that talks are ongoing between the two sides and are expected to continue on Tuesday.
The Citizens have held a long-term interest in the 23-year-old, and they unsuccessfully attempted to sign him back in 2016. In the last few years, Laporte has also attracted interests from the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea.
If the league-leaders manage to sign Laporte then he would be their first signing of the transfer window. While most of their direct opponents have been quite active in the opening days of the window, Pep Guardiola has strayed away from making any new signings.
The Citizens were expected to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, but neighbours Manchester United got away with the Chilean eventually.
City’s pursuit of Laporte could also leave Arsenal as favourites to sign Jonny Evans from West Bromwich Albion.
Both City and Arsenal have been following Evans since last summer, and now it appears that City have finally ended their interest and have left the door open for the Gunners.
Earlier this month, when asked about the reported interest in the 30-year-old, Arsene Wenger said that Arsenal would come second-best to City if there is a bidding war for the Northern Irishman.
“We don’t have an agreement with anybody. I think the best thing is not to talk,” Wenger said when asked about Evans.
“We will need to see off any interest of any other club, yes. I don’t know if Manchester City are in for anybody. I don’t know what their policy is.
“If the decision comes to finances against Manchester City, we know we will be second best.”
Wenger’s comments more-or-less confirmed his interest in the central defender. Now, it remains to be seen whether the Gunners would be able to take advantage of the situation.