Arsenal and Manchester United are prepared to launch £30m bids to secure the services of Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte. The 20-year-old defender is also wanted by European giants Barcelona and Bayern Munich after cementing his reputation as one of the most promising defenders in La Liga.
The Express claim that the Premier League duo are prepared to trigger the France Under-21 international’s release clause this summer after a fine campaign with the Basque club, in which he made 35 La Liga appearances and scored two goals in the process. His talismanic performances ensured Athletic will be competing in next season’s Champions League campaign.
However, Laporte might not feature for the San Mames outfit if either Arsene Wenger or Louis van Gaal get their way. Van Gaal is on the lookout for a classy centre-back after both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic left Old Trafford this summer, while Wenger could lose the services of club-captain Thomas Vermaelen, who has fallen down the pecking order behind Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker over the last 18 months.
Laporte recently admitted that he would consider leaving Athletic Bilbao following speculation linking him with a dream move to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, telling respected French publication L’Equipe: "It's a dream, Bayern is one of the best teams in the world. But I'm in Bilbao and I have a buyout clause of €36million.
"Would I consider the option of leaving? I will think, but for now I am calm."
Laporte is likely to favour a move to the Allianz Arena or to Barcelona, but his head could be turned by a lucrative contract offer from either Manchester United or Arsenal, who both require an additional top-class centre-back for the coming seasons.