Hailing from the small city of Agen in the Basque region of France, Aymeric Laporte is only the second Frenchman to play for Athletic Club, after former national icon Bixente Lizarazu. Laporte, however, looks likely to form a central and vital part of Athletic sides for years to come. At only 19 years of age, Aymeric’s rise through the ranks has been meteoric. Spotted as a 15-year-old playing for his local side SU Agen, Laporte had to wait until he turned 16 to be able to accept Athletic’s advances due to youth labour laws, but he can look back now and assure himself that he made the right choice. In just over 3 short years he’s made the jump from playing amateur football to first team regular under Ernesto Valverde.
Although Valverde’s faith in the youngster is clearly paying off, with Laporte and Mikel San José developing a solid partnership at the back, it was Marcelo Bielsa who must be given credit for promoting the youngster to the first team squad. Laporte is glowing with praise for his former manager, stating that he “revolutionised” the club’s game. Bielsa’s habit of being “super meticulous” lead to rapid progress for many players because, as Laporte states, “if one didn’t do what he wanted, he would get seriously angry.”
It’s somewhat ironic to have a Frenchman named ‘Laporte’ playing as a defender in Spain. Translated literally as “the door”, Laporte’s name already offers up certain connotations. Yet add to the mix the fact that, in Spanish, the goal itself is often referred to as “the door” (“La puerta”) and you have a plethora of word plays at your beck and call.
Now, if an opponent wants to hit a shot at the door, they must first get past Athletic’s newly-installed French door.
Strong, good in the air, quick and composed on the ball, Laporte has all the makings of the classic ball-playing central defender that we have all become so used to thanks to Barcelona’s recent European dominance. It’s not for nothing that he’s been linked more than once with the Blaugrana.
Clearly, at such a young age, mistakes (such as ball watching) will be made due to a lack of experience but the truth is, if he carries on playing at this level consistently, he can only get better.
£20-25m. Just as with Ibai, Athletic Club have no urgent need to sell and can thus hold out for the largest possible fee, if they ever do decide to cash in. Add to that the fact that, with so many years ahead of him to improve, he is already a first team player and it makes sense that he would command a suitably large fee.