Media reports claiming Manchester City have set a £60m sale price on Aymeric Laporte were all over the place ahead of the game against Norwich. Although the original source of the report, the Daily Mail, has a habit of playing to the gallery, it’s now an open secret that the centre-back was unhappy about his playing time last season.
When manager Pep Guardiola spoke about some players being unhappy and wanting to leave, Laporte was one of the four. It’s not known if the situation has deteriorated further. That will likely be the case if this report turns out to be true.
John Stones rediscovered his best form last season and partnered new boy Ruben Dias as the Blues enjoyed a successful campaign. Having recently signed a new long-term deal, it’s likely that Laporte is now more concerned about his future at the club.
If Stones and Dias continue from where they left off last term, it’s likely Laporte will play backup. That’s apparently something he doesn’t want. For a player that has struggled to nail down a place in the national team, that may affect his chances with Spain. To prevent that, he wants regular playing time.
Perhaps, it also hurts his ego to go from being the key defender at the club just one and half season ago to now playing second fiddle. Being at the prime of his career, he wants to be a key player in a top team. His goal against Norwich served as a reminder to Pep of his importance.
What’s Wrong with Selling an Unhappy Player?
Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be great for the team. But that’s when you have enough depth to cope with his departure. At the moment, City need Laporte.
The Premier League is tough and a lot can happen in the course of a season. Just one injury to Dias or Stones and the house can come tumbling down.
City have four centre-backs in the team; Dias, Stones, Laporte and Nathan Ake. The latter has so far shown he still has a long way to go to measure up to City’s standard. Having only the Netherlands international as backup in case of injury could leave the team suddenly weakened at the back.
A look at the opposition shows just how important the position is. Manchester United have Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones. Chelsea have Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Andres Christiansen and Kurt Zouma. Liverpool have Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate.
Arsenal and Tottenham are also well stocked in the position, so City cannot afford to allow weakness in a key area.
Besides, it will be difficult for City to get a top-notch centre-back like the Spaniard for a fair price. Recall what the club went through before signing Dias.
What’s the Way Out?
Guardiola needs to find a way to make Laporte happy. His performance against Norwich is a timely reminder of his quality and importance. He wants more playing time? Give him more playing time.
The manager can shake up his lineup to accommodate the 27-year-old. The best way to create room for him could be to play a back three with Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko/Joao Cancelo functioning as wingbacks. That way the three centre-backs feature.
It may not work for every game, but it’ll work for most. And that could win him over. As it stands, City need Laporte more than he needs us. Real Madrid and Juventus are reported to be interested in his services.
City and Guardiola will do well to keep hold of the player. Letting him go could be costly.