The Manchester City fans in the Transfer Tavern were delighted with the acquisition of Aymeric Laporte as the January transfer window drew to a close.
If Pep Guardiola had any concerns over his defensive options prior to the beginning of the January transfer window, they will certainly be eradicated now that City have completed the signing of Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao in a £57 million deal. The price of the Laporte deal was a new club record, but City almost broke their record for the second time in as many days on transfer deadline day with the signing of Riyad Mahrez.
However, following a highly publicised pursuit, City chose to withdrew their interest in Mahrez due to the cost of the deal, and their decision ensured that Laporte remains City’s most expensive player of all time.
With a huge price tag comes a huge expectation to succeed, so Laporte will certainly be watched with a keen eye by fans and pundits alike throughout the opening months of his career in Manchester. Considering the enormity of the price-tag, it is unlikely that Guardiola intends for Laporte to sit on the bench at the club, so it’s now up to Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany and John Stones to step up their game and prove they should be ahead of the Frenchman in Guardiola’s pecking order.
If we assume that Otamendi and Stones are currently City’s first-choice centre-backs, then it’s fair to say that John Stones (valued at £36 million by Transfermarkt) is currently the most likely player to lose his place in City’s starting eleven.
Stones has been in brilliant form for The Citizens this season, and his understanding with Otamendi has been pivotal to their success, but the England international simply cannot rest on his laurels now that Laporte has arrived at The Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola will undoubtedly be keen to utilise his new signing within his back-four as regularly as possible, so Stones must continue to improve and impress City’s demanding boss to ensure that he retains his place in the first-team for the remainder of the season.