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Man City deal for Aymeric Laporte with Athletic Bilbao close - sources

Manchester City are closing in on the signing of France under-21 defender Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, sources have told ESPN FC.

Laporte, 23, has a buyout clause worth €65 million (£57m) and City are hopeful of concluding a move before the transfer window closes next Wednesday.

The France under-21 international almost moved to the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2016 but changed his mind and decided to sign a new contract with the La Liga club.

But sources told ESPN FC on Tuesday that City decided to renew their interest in Laporte with Pep Guardiola wanting a new defender before the January window closed.

The Catalan coach wants a backup to John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi but captain Vincent Kompany has again missed much of the season through injury while Eliaquim Mangala has struggled to impress.

Should City pay the full buyout clause, it would make him the club's most expensive signing -- beating the £55m they paid for Kevin De Bruyne in 2015.

Laporte is considered one of the best young defenders in Europe and has attracted interested from Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

He would be eligible to play in the Champions League and could potentially provide cover at left-back where City are short due to injuries to Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph.

City decided to move now after chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano met at the weekend to discuss the club's transfer strategy.

They also spoke about a move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and City also hope to complete a deal for the Brazilian before the January transfer window closes.

The club is keen to wrap up a number of transfers now because of concern over last summer's major inflation in prices with an expectation that the trend will continue.

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.

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