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Manchester City hopeful of signing Athletic Bilbao defender, Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City is hopeful of completing a club-record £57m deal for defender Aymeric Laporte from La Liga club Athletic Bilbao.

City boss Pep Guardiola has admired the 23-year-old for some time and is willing to meet his release clause.

A deal for the French centre-back is yet to be agreed but negotiations are expected to be concluded before the transfer window closes on Wednesday.

City’s current transfer record is the £55m paid for Kevin de Bruyne in 2015.

The Belgium midfielder, who joined from Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, has signed a new deal with the Premier League leaders that runs until 2023.

Laporte has been regarded as one of La Liga’s finest young defenders since making his Spanish top-flight debut in 2012 but is yet to play for France’s senior side.

He joined Bilbao aged 16 and has scored 10 goals in 222 appearances for the Basque club, as well as representing France 19 times at under-21 level.

His arrival would provide Guardiola with a valuable additional option in central defence.

Apart from the first-choice pair of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, the fitness of skipper Vincent Kompany has proved unreliable and Guardiola appears to lack confidence in the ability of Eliaquim Mangala.

City remains interested in West Brom skipper Jonny Evans but unless Frenchman Mangala leaves over the next week, the Northern Ireland centre-back is more likely to move to Arsenal or Leicester.

Evans could remain at West Brom, where he has 18 months remaining on his contract, but the Baggies know he would be allowed to leave the Hawthorns for £3m in the summer if they were relegated.

Manager Alan Pardew wants to fund the purchase of a striker he believes is required to give his side the best chance of avoiding the drop.



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