United target centre-back Aymeric Laporte in January

Another transfer window is fast approaching us and Manchester United’s £150 million “war-chest” is back as the star of every newspaper. As usual United have been linked with a host of players, some well renowned names and some not so famous ones. In this column we help you the fans to find out more about the players linked with Manchester United. In this edition we focus on a certain 20 year old french center back who is making a name for himself in the Spanish La Liga.

Full Name : Aymeric Laporte
Born : 27th May 1994 (age 20)
Place of Birth : Agen, Aquitaine, France.
Nationality : French
Positions : Center Back, Left Full Back
Preferred Foot : Left
Current Club : Athletic Bilbao
Club Debut : At 18 years old vs Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona FC  in the Europa League
International Debut :  N/A
Value :  £12 million (Transfermarkt.com), £32 million (Rumoured Release Clause)

Aymeric Laporte has been gaining a lot of admirers over the past 2 years since making his debut for Athetic Bilbao  in a 0-2 Europa League win against Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona FC in cyprus. His impressive performances in his first two starts in the Europa League helped him cement a place in the first team and was ever present in the starting lineup for most of the second half of the 2012/2013 season. The end of the season saw Marcelo Bielsa leave the managerial position and being replaced by Ernesto Valverde. Under Valverde Laporte retained his place as first choice center back and played an integral part in Bilbao’s Champions League Qualification campaign in 2013/2014.

A left sided center back who is capable of bringing the ball out from defense, no wonder Aymeric Laporte is constantly linked with a side managed by Louis Van Gaal. Along with how comfortable he is on the ball Laporte is strong in the  air, versatile, quick on his feet and plays with a confidence and maturity above his years. A natural reader of the game Laporte has already captained his country at u-19 level and is tipped to make his full debut for the french national side in the near future. According to Squawka‘s stats for the 2013/2014 season Laporte  was the best performing defensive player in Europe’s top 5 leagues under the age of 21. Already showcasing his talents at the highest level in the Spanish league and also gaining Champions League experience Laporte has a bright future ahead of him. Fellow Frenchman Raphael Varane and Marquinhos of PSG could quite possibly be the only young center backs that rank above him when in comes to potential ability. Whether he reaches the potential or not is another story but he is surely heading in the right direction.

Laporte has constantly been linked with major European club including Manchester United and  he is rumored to have sacked his agent recently as he was unhappy with the number of reports linking him with a move away from Bilbao. Considering this it remains to be seen whether he is ready to make a move away from Bilbao at the current moment or whether Bilbao is ready to sell. One thing is for sure the 20 year old has a bright future ahead of him and looks destined to be one of the best center backs in the world in the coming years.