Barcelona and Real Madrid have registered their interest in Aymeric Laporte, who has told Manchester City he wants to leave for La Liga, according to reports.
Laporte looked like one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League in his first 18 months or so after joining in January 2018. The former Athletic Bilbao defender went on to make 51 appearances in all competitions in the 2018-19 season. However, in the two years since then, injuries have halted his progress.
City struggled somewhat in his absence in the 2019-20 season, conceding their Premier League crown to Liverpool. Rather than putting their faith in Laporte upon his return, though, they spent big on Ruben Dias last summer.
It was a worthwhile investment, as Dias went on to be named the Premier League Player of the Season. But instead of Laporte playing alongside him at the back, his usual partner was a revitalised John Stones.
With Dias and Stones likely to start most City games next season, Laporte’s future has come into question. After switching international allegiance so he could represent Spain at Euro 2020, the France-born star could be about to change clubs as well.
There have been murmurings of an exit for quite a while. Laporte suggested as far back as May that he could consider a transfer this summer.
It led to links with Barcelona, despite their precarious financial situation. They have already signed Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers from City and could pay to get Laporte to follow.
According to 90min, Laporte has now communicated to City that he wants to leave this summer. Specifically, he only wants to return to La Liga rather than any other destination.
But Barcelona are not his only suitors, as Real Madrid are also reported to have made contact.
Los Blancos are about to lose Raphael Varane to Manchester United, so could seek a replacement from the other side of the city. After also saying goodbye to Sergio Ramos, it is essential for Real to replenish their defence, despite already adding David Alaba on a free.
Laporte could thus have a choice between the two El Clasico rivals. They have each identified him as their top target in defence, if they can find the funds.
While they work that out, they have asked City to keep them up to date about his future.
City are willing to grant him his exit wish, but only for the right price.
Silva also seeks exit
Another City player considering his future despite a formerly prominent role is attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva.
City are understood to be on the verge of signing Jack Grealish from Aston Villa. Should that go through, not only may the club need to balance the books after a £100m splurge, some squad members competing for the same position may fear their opportunities diminishing.
That appears to be the case for Silva, who according to the Daily Mail will explore an exit from the club should Grealish arrive.
Silva has been with City since 2017, when he joined in a big-money move from Monaco. Four years remain on his contract, but he only managed 26 Premier League appearances last season. It was the lowest tally of his City career.
With Grealish posing further threat to his chances of getting back on track, Silva may have to seek an exit.
The Mail claimed that he hopes to return to mainland Europe, where Barcelona and Atletico Madrid could battle to take him to La Liga.