By Editor Wayne Veysey
Manchester City are confident of winning the race to sign Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, Football Insider sources understand.
The Premier League are working on a deal to land the highly rated 21-year-old centre-back, who has a £40million release clause in his contract.
A City recruitment source has told Football Insider that the club have an agreement in principle with the camp of Laporte and are now ready to begin talks with Bilbao about the terms of the transfer.
Barcelona are also interested in signing the France Under-21 international but City are in pole position to capture one of Europe’s emerging defensive stars.
Incoming City manager Pep Guardiola has sanctioned a summer move for Laporte as he begins his overhaul of a playing squad that has failed to live up to expectations in the past two seasons.
One of Guardiola’s priorities is to strengthen a defence that has struggled to contain many Premier League teams this season, particularly during the frequent absences of skipper Vincent Kompany.
Laporte has established himself as a regular in the Bilbao defence since joining the club in December 2012 for £450,000.
He has made 45 first-team appearances this season, most of which have been starts, and has played 149 matches in total for the club, a remarkable figure for such a young player.
In other Manchester City transfer news, the club are also closing in on a new midfielder and goalkeeper.