City, Barça target Laporte says no thanks, signs Athletic deal
The France under-21 defender thanked "several clubs" for interest but said the best option for him was to remain at San Mamés.
Aymeric Laporte has signed a contract extension Athletic Bilbao running until June 2020 despite the interest of “several clubs” in securing the services of the highly rated France under-21 international.
Manchester City, Manchester United and Barcelona are among some of the European heavyweights credited with an interest in Laporte, but the defender decided to remain at San Mamés as it was “the best option at the moment.”
“[The other clubs] are very exciting and attractive sporting projects. But you have to make decisions and I’ve made mine, I hope it all goes well. I’m grateful to the clubs that have shown an interest in me because it says that I am doing well,” Laporte said in an interview with the Athletic official website.
Laporte added that “my family, as well as my teammates, people at the club and the fans,” had influenced his decision. “They wanted to see me continue here and I have been enjoying myself since I came to Bilbao. I’m very happy and I’m grateful to the club. They have taught me a lot and shaped me as a person.”
Laporte, 22, arrived at San Mamés from Bayonne as a 15-year-old and broke into the first team in 2012-13 and has represented France at youth level, although he has said that he would consider making the switch to Spain if he was not selected for the Euros by Didier Deschamps. However, an ankle fracture suffered while playing for France under-21 against Scotland in March took that decision out of the Les Bleus’ coach hands.
Now recovered, but without the green light to resume full training, Laporte said the support he received from “everybody” on social media and “even in the street” had helped him reach the decision to stay at San Mamés. “Now I’m eager to get back and to win as much as we can,” he concluded.