Aymeric Laporte Scout Report
Such is the current defensive crisis at Manchester United that every half-decent centre back has been linked with the club over the past few months. One player who might well represent a solid future investment is Athletic Bilbao’s 20-year-old French centre back Aymeric Laporte. The French U-21 international is regarded highly both in Bilbao and France and Chelsea and Arsenal are also reportedly interested in his signature. So who is Laporte? Why are the big English clubs queuing for his signature? For all this and more just read on.
Born on May 1994 in Agen, a city which is on the edge of the Pyrenees mountain range that separates France from Spain, Aymeric Laporte started his playing career with French amateur side SU Agen-Football at the age of six. After nine years with the club, he moved to Aviron Bayonnais where he spent another year before signing for Athletic Bilbao’s youth academy in 2010.
After an injury curtailed his start with the club, he played for the reserves before moving to third division side CD Baskonia for the 2011/12. The 2012/13 season was him rise up to the first-team for whom he made his debut in a Europa League win over Hapoel in Cyprus. A month after his European debut, he made his first senior domestic appearance when he came on as a late substitute in a 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo in December 2012. Ever since then, Laporte’s career has seen a remarkable rise as he has established himself as a first-choice centre back. The central defender has also represented France in the Under-17 and Under-18 level before going onto captain the Under-19 in the 2012/13 season and has been a regular in the U-21 side since 2013.
Style of Play
Over the past decade or so, the no non-sense centre back has been on a steady decline. Ball-playing centre backs have been the rage and Aymeric Laporte is as good as they come. Not only is he tall (6’2), he is also quick, good in the air and has an impeccable reading of the game for someone who only turned 20 before the start of the season. Although he is a centre back by trade, he is also very capable of filling in at left back, which makes him even more of a valuable asset. Although he is very capable of bringing the ball out from the back, he is well aware of his primary duties as a centre back and ensures that he never over-commits himself.
It is not very often that a defender’s biggest asset is his pace. But in the case of Laporte it is, as it allows him the time to recover even if he does make a mistake, which he seldom does. Not only is he quick, he is also strong and can hold his own in defence. For a defender who is just 20, Laporte’s reading of the game is simply stunning as it gives him the opportunity to nip attacks in the bud with a simple interception or sharp tackle. Not only is he a good defender, but a leader as well, as his ability to organise his defence is that of a player well beyond his years.
Not only is the Frenchman defensively resolute, his ability on the ball is not bad either. Whether it is keeping it short and simple in the centre of the park, or spraying a long diagonal to either flanks, the 20-year-old is equally comfortable at both. While many defenders are good technically, what separates him from the rest is his ability to act according to the situation at hand and not merely rush forward at every opportunity.
Upon analysing Laporte’s game, it is fair to say that he has no clear weakness in his play. But if there is one thing that he can work on, it is his indiscipline. Although he is still only 20, the Frenchman sometimes has a tendency to lose his patience and snap. If he is to establish himself as one of the best centre backs of his generation, he needs to work on that and also improve his passing accuracy.
The defensive woes of Arsenal and Manchester United have meant that they have been keeping a close eye on the 20-year-old centre back. Although he only sacked his agent last week amidst rumours linking him to the Premier League, his £32m release-clause means that if any club want him, they can simply trigger the clause and get their hands on one of the finest French defenders right now.
Having played all of his professional career in Bilbao, it is not surprising that the Frenchman wants to stay at the club and help them qualify for the Champions League again. While £32m is certainly a lot of money for a centre back who is only 20, Laporte is one player, who is destined for greatness irrespective of where he plays. Having said that, at this juncture, time on the pitch is important for the Frenchman and unless an interest club are ready to offer him a starting spot, he is better off staying in Bilbao for a season or two before moving to the Premier League.