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​Why Man Utd, Chelsea should be jealous Man City signed Aymeric Laporte

COMMENT: A few days ago, Manchester City completed the signing of Aymeric Laporte from La Liga side Athletic Bibao for £57m thus making him Manchester City's most expensive signing.

Following the transfer, the Citizens now boast of five of the most expensive defenders in world football having acquired John Stones, Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo for huge fees since Pep Guardiola took over at the club.

Despite spending big on defenders since he arrived at the Etihad, Guardiola's side still suffer from defensive frailties, although not as much as other sides.

The Spanish tactician, though, will be hoping that Laporte can provide some much-needed solidity in City's back four alongside either Nicolas Otamendi or John Stones, both of whom have formed a formidable partnership this season.

It's worth noting that Guardiola attempted to sign Laporte back in 2016, but the Frenchman opted to remain at Bilbao in a bid to continue his development as a player.

Whilst he is yet to reach his full potential, Laporte still has plenty to offer the Citizens at this point in time, much to the chagrin of their rivals considering most of the top six have at least one centre-back who has been below par this season.

Laporte made his Manchester City debut on Wednesday night in City's 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion and looked solid as he kept things tidy at the back and passed the ball with precision.

Over the past few years, Laporte has garnered a reputation of being one of the best young defenders in Europe. At the age of 23, it's fair to say the Frenchman has outgrown the 'wonderkid' tag that he justified so well having played a role in the Athletic Bilbao side that lifted the Spanish Super Cup in 2015 - the club's first trophy in 31 years.

It's no secret that Manchester City's style of play under Guardiola is centred on passing the ball out from the back before playing their way into their opponent's half of the pitch with speed and precision, thus the need for a ball playing defender like Stones.

Laporte, like Stones, is adept at distributing the ball as exemplified by his 83% pass success rate (before his transfer to Manchester City) in a Bilbao side that rarely dominates possession in games.

Stones has a better pass success rate (96%) but City's unrivalled ability to retain possession will undoubtedly see Laporte's numbers increase over the course of the season given he completed 95% of his passes on against the Baggies.

The 23-year-old is also capable driving into the middle of the park to find a team-mate as he's good on the ball and has great tactical awareness.

Laporte has created seven chances in La Liga this term, one of which has led to a goal. To put things into perspective, John Stones is yet to create a single goalscoring opportunity this season, highlighting Laporte's ability to contribute to other facets of play, something that definitely piqued Guardiola's interest.

Whilst Laporte has great ball-playing attributes, he's also a competent defender as evidenced by his 1.58 interceptions per game at Bilbao which is better than Barcelona's Gerard Pique (0.56) - one of the best defenders of the modern era.

The Premier League's physicality shouldn't prove to be too much for Laporte to handle as he won 71% of his aerial duels in La Liga and also won 1.37 tackles per game.

Laporte is a great signing as he confirmed with his great performance on his debut. He's also got bags of potential and lots of time to become the best player he can possibly be.

He'll probably need up until the end of the season to fully acclimatise himself to English football and Guardiola's tactical philosophy, but when he does, the strength of City's backline will increase tremendously.

And this why City's rivals have every reason to be jealous given they now have one of Europe's best young defenders within their ranks.

Phillip Ekuwem
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Phillip Ekuwem

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