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“He was very close to joining” – La Liga club’s sporting director opens up on summer swoop for Manchester City star



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The summer transfer window of 2023 was one that featured several notable shocks when it came to exits from Manchester City.

Ilkay Gundogan began the summer in heartbreaking fashion for supporters of the recently-crowned treble-winners, after the German international brought an end to his illustrious stay at the Etihad Stadium by joining FC Barcelona on a free transfer.

The veteran midfielder was then followed through the exit door by another experienced member of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad, as Riyad Mahrez became the first name to take up an opportunity in Saudi Arabia as part of a deal worth £35 million.

But perhaps the most surprising move of the window concerned Aymeric Laporte, who leaves European football at the height of his professional career, joining Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr for a transfer fee understood to be worth around £24 million.

Things could have been very different for the Spain international however, with interest from within European football and from one of his former clubs now having been confirmed.

Speaking recently during an interview with Movistar+, as translated and relayed by Sport Witness, Athletic Bilbao sporting director Mikel González has spoken of the club’s pursuit of a deal for their former star Aymeric Laporte.

“[The market] is small, there was a goal set some time ago and he was very close to joining, it’s true that against certain new markets it is difficult to compete and I think that we continue to have that door open for the future,” Gonzalez explained.

On the subject of competing with Saudi Arabia for Laporte’s signature, the La Liga club’s director continued, “It’s a new scenario in football, figures that are incredible, which are difficult to reject at times.

“Athletic had made every effort possible and we understand the player’s decision.”

Manchester City secured a direct replacement for Laporte during the summer transfer window, as they moved fast to secure the signature of Croatia international Josko Gvardiol ahead of competition following his exploits at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Gvardiol made the switch from RB Leipzig to the Etihad Stadium for a transfer fee understood to be worth in the region of £78 million, and provides competition in Pep Guardiola’s squad at both left-back and centre-back.

The 21-year-old will have the opportunity to face his former club almost immediately, after Manchester City were drawn to face RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League group stage, alongside BSC Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade.