After completing a club record £57m transfer from Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, manager Pep Guardiola reckons Aymeric Laporte is ready to be thrown straight into Premier League action.
Laporte’s £57m release clause was met by the Premier League leaders to eclipse the £55m they paid to sign Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg in 2015.
The uncapped Frenchman signed a contract to 2023 on his Etihad Stadium arrival and Guardiola believes 222 appearances at Athletic will stand Laporte in good stead as he tackles the Premier League.
“He’s played since a young age in LaLiga so he is at a high level,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday.
“He’s strong in the air and fast. He’s got good quality and we are delighted.
“Because he’s been playing for the last period, he’s ready. He has to adapt and the Premier League is special in many senses but he’s intelligent and will read situations.
“Even for English players the Premier League is a little bit tough, we will be patient. He comes for five years, so that’s what it is.”
Laporte was a reported target of Guardiola’s immediately after the Catalan’s Manchester City appointment in 2016, but he had to wait 18 months to get his man after the defender opted to stay at Athletic to recover from an ankle injury.
“The clubs have interest in players but they also have to want to come to the club,” Guardiola said.
“We are very aware of his skills, he’s an experienced central defender on the big stages and has the skills to help us. He is the perfect age to be with us for a while.”
City face West brom at the Etihad on Wednesday night and Laporte could get his first taste of English football.
With Laporte’s arrival set to see Eliaquim Mangala pushed down City’s defensive pecking order, the centre-back has been linked with a loan move to Newcastle United.
But Guardiola said the 26-year-old would be staying at City to provide cover over the second half of the season, with the transfer window set to close on Wednesday.