Aymeric Laporte was quick to dodge questions about Manchester City’s apparent interest in Harry Maguire – but has vowed to fight to keep his place in Pep Guardiola’s side whether the champions buy a new centre-back this summer or not.
Guardiola has one fewer senior central defender in his squad following the departure of captain Vincent Kompany at the end of last season.
City have been heavily linked with Leicester’s Maguire but have given no indication whether they are likely to push for a deal. Guardiola even gave a two-word answer to questions about Maguire last week.
But without any new arrival, City face the prospect of going into the season with just Laporte, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as the club’s recognised centre-halves.
Laporte, who was outstanding and featured in 49 of the treble winners’ 61 games in all competitions last season, said: “Hopefully it can be the same this year, I’m here to start. I’m going to work for that.
“I don’t know (if the the club will buy Maguire or anyone else). Ask Pep what he wants. I think the three of us are putting ourselves forward to play every game, but we don’t decide. The club decides for us.”
Guardiola has refused to be drawn on the possibility of signing Maguire whenever he has been asked by media during the club’s pre-season tour of Asia.
He has indicated he would like to sign another defender but has claimed that he is well covered if he cannot find the right player, even suggesting midfielder Fernandinho could play in the position. The record summer signing of midfielder Rodri could facilitate a reshuffle of the team.
Laporte said: “Yes it’s possible. Fernandinho is a very good player. I think he can play wherever he wants so, yes, he can play centre-back too.”
After last season’s successes, City will begin the new campaign as Premier League favourites. With Rodri coming in to bolster the midfielder ranks, there are few obvious weaknesses in the City squad but Laporte accepts it will be difficult to replicate the last campaign.
The 25-year-old said: “We will try. I think we have the same team and there’s someone else who has come in who can complete the team but we know it will be difficult.”
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