The Premier League club were preparing to announce the young centre-back as their second signing of last summer before a dramatic change of heart
Manchester City are confident of landing all of their top transfer targets early this summer, but they will be mindful that even the best-laid plans can go wrong at the 11th hour.
Deals for Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Alexis Sanchez are not yet done and dusted, but City believe they will eventually get their men this summer. Things do go wrong, however.
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That is what happened 12 months ago, as the Blues were preparing to finalise the signing of centre-back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic.
City had identified the young defender as one of their main targets in the early part of last year, and maintained their interest even after he broke his leg and fractured his ankle that March.
Having agreed on a deal worth around £38 million with Athletic and lined up personal terms with Laporte, City director of football Txiki Begiristain instructed the club’s legal department to draw up the contracts. As of Friday June 11, the deal was done.
But as preparations were being made back in Manchester to confirm the France international as City’s second signing of the summer, Laporte delivered the shock news to Begiristain.
During that weekend he had not only decided that he wanted to stay at Athletic, but that he was going to extend his contract as well – with a higer buy-out clause.
The decision to back out of the move meant City’s plans to strengthen the defence were torpedoed, leaving Begiristain and other senior figures less than impressed.
For that reason that the 23-year-old does not feature on Pep Guardiola’s wish list this time around, despite the Catalan’s desire to bring in a new centre-back this summer.
It is a similar story for Arsenal duo Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who were given the opportunity to join City but eventually elected to stay at the Emirates Stadium.
City will be desperate that none of their targets this summer will similarly leave them high and dry. The club have had their primary targets confirmed since February, and after months of groundwork they believe they are well placed to sign them all.
Bernardo Silva has already arrived from Monaco while Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson is set to become their second signing of the summer. City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has pointed out the importance of full-backs to Guardiola’s plans and there is a hope that the club will soon make decisive breakthroughs for Tottenham right-back Walker and Monaco left-back Mendy.
Alexis Sanchez is Guardiola’s top target overall this summer, and although City are aware that Arsenal are unwilling to sell to them, they believe the Chilean wants to join up with Guardiola and will reject moves elsewhere, including to Bayern Munich.
City also want to sign a centre-back, but Laporte is not being targeted.
There is a chance that City could officially confirm at least four signings long before the transfer window officially opens on July 1, and after Laporte’s last-minute snub it is no surprise they want to act as quickly as possible.