Manchester City central defender Aymeric Laporte has has been the most consistent outfield player for the club this season. At a time when manager Pep Guardiola is spoiled for choice and regularly rotates the players for several reasons, Laporte has been the odd one out. The former Athletic Club defender has put forth a commanding performance this season impressing at the back and even upfront.
It is therefore, not surprising that the 24-year-old has become the first name on Guardiola’s team sheet. Except for the Carabao Cup win against Oxford United, Laporte has played every minute of every game in all of City’s Premier League and Champions League matches this term. His consistency is proving vital as the club seeks to match last season’s achievements in England and progress in the Champions League.
With Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones all fit and ready to play, the Catalan has stuck to the player as his first choice in defence while rotating the others around him. And the young Frenchman has not disappointed. He has even gone forward to score important goals for the team. One of such was his leveller against Wolverhampton Wanderers that rescued a point at the Molineux.
Asked about the situation with the defender on Friday, Guardiola stated:
“First of all, his level.
“Today, for example, in the training session he was so focused. Every action was there.
“I am seeing the same with Vincent, John and Nico, but especially with his left foot, playing on the left side.
“He gives us alternative for the build-up quicker and faster than the other one.
“When you receive to go to the right, you have to go inside. In the left, you go to that side.
“It helps us to create this build-up. With the right, it is a little bit more complicated.”
Laporte, who was purchased in January for a then club-record £57million is justifying his price tag. And if you think the manager was done extolling his virtues, he was not. He gave more reasons why he has been preferred ahead of others:
“In that position, it is not just about the left, but his attention defensively, winning duels and that is why.
“At the end I can move the squad but when one player plays good, good and good, it gives me confidence so I give you another opportunity. It is not complicated,” he said.
The Frenchman, who is also eligible to play for Spain at senior level is yet to feature for the French national team having played for their Under-21 side. The fact that he had a rest during the World Cup and does not travel to compete during the international break also helps him stay fresh. This has also influenced the manager’s decision concerning the player. But he concluded that things will not remain the same in the near future.
“Of course we have other alternatives, to play Vincent or Nico.
“He is not going to play all the season all the minutes but he doesn’t go to the national team.
“He has a break during two weeks. In this period, he is fitter and can play regularly so when the international breaks finish, come December, January, February, everyone is going to play,” Guardiola said.
Whatever happens in future, Laporte’s consistency could make a huge difference in the club’s Champions League ambitions if his solidity at the back, and goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in a recent 3-0 win is anything to go by.