Aymeric Laporte signs Bilbao contract extension
By Ric Turner, Wed 15 June 2016 08:50
Guardiola misses out on primary defensive target after player's last minute change of heart
Aymeric Laporte has renewed his contract with Athletic Bilbao, ending City's hopes of bringing the French defender to The Etihad next season. The Blues believed that concluding a deal for the centre-half was a formality, with the club's in-house media team already preparing graphics for his unveiling.
However, on Monday night Athletic confirmed that he had signed a new deal until 2020. They added that the release clause would for the defender would be €65m (£52m) for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, increasing to €70m for the two after that. Laporte becomes the best paid player in Athletic's history, earning a reported £4m a year. It is believed that City were offering an annual salary of £6m.
The defender suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle at the end of last season whilst playing for the French under 21 team, and the injury ruled him out of Euro 2016. However, City were happy with the medical reports they received, and the player recently posted footage on social media of him in training, running with the ball.
In his traditional end of season interview, chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak spoke of two deals being "done" - believed to be Ilkay Gundogan and Aymeric Laporte. Whilst the club briefed journalists that they were relaxed about the situation, citing the high transfer fee for a relatively unproven 21 year old, it will come as a blow to Pep Guardiola, who had made Laporte his primary defensive target.
It is now believed City will turn their attentions to Everton's John Stones, but will have to pay in excess of £45m to prise the defender from Goodison Park. Stones was a target regardless of the Laporte situation, but City will be desperate not to miss out on a second target and are expected to make their move in the coming weeks.
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