Laporte on the brink of Man City move after meeting release clause

Aymeric Laporte is a step closer to becoming a Manchester City player after paying his release clause of €65million at Athletic Bilbao.

Manchester City's new signing Aymeric Laporte in action for Athletic Bilbao   -  Getty Images

Aymeric Laporte is on the verge of becoming Manchester City's record signing after Athletic Bilbao confirmed the defender has paid his release clause.

In a statement on their official website, Athletic confirmed the payment of the clause – which stands at €65million (£57m) – was made by Laporte, such are the mechanics of transfer deals under Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) regulations.

City were not mentioned in the statement but Pep Guardiola is now poised to make the 23-year-old the Premier League leaders' biggest individual signing, outstripping the £55m paid to Wolfsburg for Kevin De Bruyne in 2015.

Athletic also tweeted a brief statement from Laporte, where he thanked a club he joined as a youngster in the 2009-10 season.

"I want to thank you all for everything you have given to me," the statement read.

"I arrived as a teenager and here I have grown up as a person and as a football player.

"My farewell, facing a new challenge in my professional career, I don’t want it to be a 'goodbye' but a 'see you soon'.

"Here I leave a unique club, different and that I will never forget."

Laporte came close to joining City in 2016 but opted against the move as he recovered from a broken ankle.

His transfer will take Guardiola's spending on first-team signings at City beyond £400m over his 18-months at the helm.

A significant chunk of his summer outlay focused upon the backline, with full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy each breaking the £50m barrier, while goalkeeper Ederson was a £34.7m arrival from Benfica.

Although City are 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and through to the EFL Cup final, Guardiola's side have been vulnerable at the back of late.

A clean sheet at Cardiff City in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday was a first shutout in seven matches in all competitions.

Vincent Kompany returned to play 90 minutes in the Welsh capital but has again struggled for fitness this term, while a hamstring injury to John Stones in November further stretched City at centre-back.

There remains a reluctant to use the accident-prone Eliaquim Mangala and, after Liverpool were unperturbed by Southampton's £75m asking price for Virgil van Dijk earlier this month, City refocused their attention on Laporte and Guardiola is on the brink of getting his man.

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