Analysing Aymeric Laporte’s Manchester City career and his move to Saudi Arabia
Aymeric Laporte’s five-and-a-half-year stint at the Etihad Stadium is over.
The Spaniard has joined the Saudi Pro League revolution that has taken centre stage since Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to the Middle East earlier this year, putting pen to paper on a contract that will see him earn upwards of £20 million a year at Al Nassr.
There’s no doubt about it, the eye-watering, tax-free salaries are the main reason why these top-level players are making the move to Saudi Arabia, and that applies in the case of Aymeric Laporte. But there is reason to suggest that this move wasn’t the first choice for the 29-year-old.
There were links with Premier League sides Arsenal and Aston Villa earlier in the transfer window, but they opted to turn their attention to Jurrien Timber and Pau Torres, respectively, while elite clubs in his homeland like Real Madrid or Barcelona never came calling.
The reality is that none of these clubs wanted to take the risk on Laporte due to his injury record despite the fact Man City were offering him up for just £25m. On his day and at full fitness, the 29-year-old is still a fantastic centre-back. But the chances of keeping him fit and getting more than half a season out of him are slim.
In his entire five years at the Etihad, Laporte played the bulk of a Premier League season just twice. One of those was during his first full year at the club when Man City won the title by a single point from Liverpool in 2018-19 and the other was when the Sky Blues incredibly achieved that feat again in 2021-22.
In his other three seasons in Manchester, Laporte appeared just 16, 15 and 12 times in the Premier League. When you consider that, is it really any surprise that English top-flight sides weren’t willing to take the risk and pay £25m on top of mammoth wages for the 29-year-old?
Real Madrid have also had a nightmare start to the new season with injuries to key players of Carlos Ancelotti’s squad piling up and making them less than favourable in thefootball odds
Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao are going to spend the best part of the season on the treatment table and Vinicius Junior is also facing a while on the sidelines. The last thing Los Blancos needed was Laporte coming in and potentially making that list longer, especially if he was brought in as a like-for-like replacement for Militao.
As for Barcelona, and even Laporte’s former club Athletic Bilbao — who were also believed to be weighing up a move for the 29-year-old at one point earlier in this transfer window — they just didn’t have the financial power to offer him the wages that he would be seeking to return to Spain.
Laporte’s move to Saudi is, unfortunately, a fair reflection of where he is at this point in his career. Indeed, he leaves the Etihad with five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, three EFL Cups and the Champions League, but there is a sense that we never really got to see the best of him during his time in England due to injuries.
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