One of the bigger stories of the early summer transfer window, Aymeric Laporte to Manchester City came very, very close to happening, but the France international opted for an extended stay in his adoptive city of Bilbao instead of playing for Pep Guardiola.
Renewing his contract with the La Liga side, the 22-year-old also became the highest paid player in the club’s history in the process.
Speaking to France Football in the magazine’s main interview, Laporte touched upon his recent call-up to the France national team by Didier Deschamps, as well as his decision behind choosing his home country over his adoptive one (Spain).
Towards the end, however, FF couldn’t help but ask him about the transfer that never was, one that nearly happened while the player was recovering from a fractured shin.
Asked if renewing his contract meant he wasn’t ready for a move to a big club, like Manchester City, Laporte said: “Maybe I was, but I was also injured. I didn’t want to take the risk. It would have complicated things not to be at 100%. Changing, however, moving away, that doesn’t scare me, just like I wasn’t scared of leaving France age 15.”
With a new release clause of €65m in his updated contract, the player also made it clear he wasn’t worried such amounts could block him from a move away when he wanted one, because ‘Manchester City were ready to pay’ €50m for him over the summer.
At only 22 years of age, the young defender still has the vast majority of his career ahead of him, and leaving Bilbao is bound to happen one day.
It just wasn’t meant to be during the summer of 2016, and a knocked back Pep Guardiola signed John Stones.