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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Pep Guardiola says Aymeric Laporte signing to ease pressure on Manchester City in summer transfer window

Manager excited to acquire long-term prospect in Laporte before taking digs at PSG and other big clubs for splashing cash on handful of players

Manchester City have signed Aymeric Laporte, right, keeping the long term in mind. Javier Etxezarreta / EPA
Manchester City have signed Aymeric Laporte, right, keeping the long term in mind. Javier Etxezarreta / EPA

Pep Guardiola declared that Manchester City’s signing of Aymeric Laporte will make their summer transfer business easier after City fast-tracked a move for the centre-back.

The Frenchman completed a £57 million (around Dh296m) move from Athletic Bilbao, making him City’s club record signing and Guardiola said he has the ability to succeed in England.

“He’s a young player, 23, left footed, and has played since a young age in La Liga on the big stages,” he said. "He’s strong in the air, good quality with the pass, and I'm delighted with what the club has done."

Laporte, who will take the No 14 shirt, was first targeted by City 18 months ago. Guardiola renewed his interest after City were short of centre-backs in the first half of the season, when both John Stones and Vincent Kompany have spent spells on the sidelines.

While City had also considered the 30-year-old Jonny Evans, Guardiola said that Laporte represents a long-term choice.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola took time to explain his transfer policy. Hannah Mckay / Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola took time to explain his transfer policy. Hannah Mckay / Reuters

“Of course he has to adapt,” he said. “The Premier League is special in many senses. I think he is intelligent, he will read what is the situation. We will be patient because he doesn’t come for three months, he comes for four or five years. But he has the skills we need to help us. Also he is the perfect age at 23 so hopefully he will have a long career here at Manchester City.

“We needed a central defender in the summertime but because we have a lot of games we decided to bring him now right now, and in summertime our window will be easier because it will be already done. We decided to do that in the winter transfer market because in the summer maybe we [only] sign one or two players.”

With Laporte arriving, Eliaquim Mangala could leave with West Ham United, Newcastle United and Valencia interested in the centre-back, either on loan or a permanent deal. City, who are likely to sign another forward in the summer, also have an interest in Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez.

Guardiola defended City against charges of over-spending, pointing out that, unlike Paris Saint-Germain making Neymar and Kylian Mbappe the two costliest footballers in history when the Frenchman’s transfer from Monaco is completed, they have not spent £400m on two players.

While Laporte is the biggest buy in City’s history, Manchester United have spent more on both Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, as have Liverpool on Virgil van Dijk while Arsenal’s proposed move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will also will more expensive.

Paris Saint-Germain spent around £400 million on Kylian Mbappe, left, and Neymar. Christophe Simon / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain spent around £400 million on Kylian Mbappe, left, and Neymar. Christophe Simon / AFP

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“Some clubs spend £300m or £400m on two players,” Guardiola explained. “We spend £300m on six players. We had a problem last summer with six or seven players out of contract and over 30 years old so we needed to change players.”

He raised the prospect that Laporte will not remain their record signing for too long as City could compete at the highest end of the market. “Maybe one day this club will spend £130 or £200m on a player but so far we didn’t have to do it,” he said.

While one player has joined his squad, another will be absent for longer than anticipated.

Leroy Sane, who was expected to be out for a month with the ankle injury sustained at Cardiff, has not been ruled out for six or seven weeks. The German is set to miss the League Cup final against Arsenal and the league meeting with Arsene Wenger’s side four days later.

Guardiola remains irritated by the dangerous challenge from Cardiff defender Joe Bennett which injured the winger and hopes his players will be afforded more protection.

“My feeling is English football is not like this,” he said.