New Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola’s search for defensive reinforcements looks set to continue after missing out on key target, Aymeric Laporte.
The Frenchman signed a new four-year deal on Monday evening and will remain with Athletic Bilbao.
Athletic released a statement on Monday evening quashing the transfer rumours, and confirming Laporte was staying with the La Liga club.
The statement on the Basque club’s official website read:
“Athletic Club and Aymeric Laporte have signed the renewal contract by which the player will remain in the rojiblanca discipline until 30 June 2020.”
They added that the release clause for the defender would be increased to €65m (£52m) for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, increasing to €70m for the two after that, a huge deterrent for any interested club.
Laporte is out until September with a broken leg and dislocated ankle, but has recently resumed light training and was one of City manager Pep Guardiola’s requested targets for the summer as he looks to reshape his defence.
City are believed to be relaxed about him staying in Spain with reservations that he was expensive at such a young age, not yet the finished article, and that his injury was a concern.
Guardiola has earmarked the City defence as an area that needs vastly improved, following a disappointing league campaign last year.
Man City conceded more goals than any other side in the top five of the Premier League, captain Vincent Kompany has been troubled by persistent injury problems that forced him to miss 37 of City’s 59 games this season, while Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi have struggled to find form.
Meanwhile 35 year old Martin Demichelis, who played 29 games last season, has been released by the club.
Guardiola is keen to rejuvenate his backline, and City remains in pursuit of Everton and England defender John Stones.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Guardiola having missed out on Laporte may turn his attention to Brazilian defender Marquinhos currently at Paris Saint Germain.
Marquinhos is considered to be one of the very best young defenders in the world but despite his potential, he’s found starts hard to come by at the Parc des Princes in his best position at centre-back due to the partnership between David Luiz and Thiago Silva.
Marquinhos is rumoured to be unhappy with his playing time at Paris Saint-Germain and may be willing to depart this summer.
With City’s defensive woes evidently clear, Pep Guardiola may be tempted to bring Jason Denayer into the first team fold. The 20 year old centre back spent last season on loan in Turkey, with Galatasaray and was particularly impressive.
The 20 year old having been included in the Belgium squad for Euro 2016 on the back of his good form in Turkey may be ready to make a pitch for a place in Guardiola’s first squad.