Chelsea and Arsenal have both been handed a lifeline in the race for highly-rated La Liga defender Aymeric Laporte, as Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has spurned the advantage he supposedly had.
According to the Daily Express the young centre-back is firmly on United’s radar, but Van Gaal is unwilling to meet the £32 million release clause that would guarantee his departure from Athletic Bilbao. As a result the Red Devils may have to turn to other options, with the Basque club under no real pressure to sell the man who has become one of their star performers.
Van Gaal stubborn
It’s believed Van Gaal has already consented to spending £25 million on the 20-year-old Frenchman, and was hoping to engineer a deal around that mark as he looks to improve his shaky back-line. With the 63-year-old refusing to negotiate on his proposal though, the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal could steal march before the January transfer window closes.
Both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho are thought to have been keeping tabs on Laporte’s development over the past two seasons, and with the Bilbao ace now having matured into a competent centre-back there’s every reason to believe their interest will have only intensified.
Arsenal and Chelsea interested
Yet a transfer to either of those clubs would leave Van Gaal with a bitter taste in his mouth, as the former Netherlands coach is in dire need of improvements at the back.
Though Laporte isn’t the defensive general that the Red Devils are believed to be seeking, he does bring a good level of experience and would certainly offer more than the likes of Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett - whom Van Gaal has been forced to call upon this campaign thanks to injury woes.
For the player himself opting for London may be the better move however, with Mourinho still assumed to be on the look out for a long-term replacement for John Terry should Kurt Zouma not make the grade, and Arsenal star Per Mertesacker having been on the receiving end of plenty of criticism for his performances thus far this term.