Man United ready to meet major Man City target’s release clause – expert

Manchester United are willing to match the release clause in Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte’s contract this summer, according to La Liga expert, Guillem Balague.

The French centre-back is considered to be one of the finest talents in the Spanish top tier outside of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, and has long been linked with a big move away from the Basque outfit.

His performances this term have been impressive, leading to recent suggestions that Manchester City have agreed a deal in principle to sign the 21-year-old this summer, at the request of incoming manager, Pep Guardiola.

However, the Citizens will face competition from Man United, who, like them, are ready to pay the €50m (£39.3m) release clause in Laporte’s contract, while Barcelona are also interested.

Responding to a question submitted to him in his Sky Sports blog, Balague wrote:

“Barcelona will have to decide where to put their money. If it’s in the renewal of contracts, then they may not have €40m- €50m to pay for a player like him.

“I know both Manchester clubs want him so it might be a matter for him to decide because they will be willing to pay the buy-out clause.

“It doesn’t mean he will go because he has been linked to them in the past and he has decided to stay and renew his contract with Athletic Bilbao, so we will see.”

Laporte is yet to be capped by France at senior international level, although his 18 appearances for Les Bleus’ U-21 side hint that he may make the step up over the coming few years.