Athletic Club President claims only Saudi Arabia stopped Aymeric Laporte return

Athletic Club President Jon Uriarte has publicly confirmed that Los Leones pursued former Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte this summer.

Laporte, 29, had been linked with a move away from City for some time having lost prominence under Pep Guardiola. Barcelona had been linked with him in the past, but were instead pursuing Inigo Martinez.

His former club also made an effort to bring Laporte back.

“We have always conveyed Athletic’s interest, if at some point it were possible, in having this player, and he has always let us know that, in a hypothetical case, he would love to play here again. This summer we have worked towards that,” Uriarte told Sport.

However as with so many players this summer, Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr swooped in with bags of money to tempt Laporte to the Middle East.

“The signing was very close to happening, but it fell apart after the emergence of Al Nassr. We were there, but we were unlucky when Al Nassr showed up. We couldn’t get into a bidding war with an Arab team, we knew we were going to lose. If Al-Nassr doesn’t show up, the player would be with us.”

Laporte would have been a star signing returning to Bilbao, and could still fulfil his hypothetical wish of returning there down the line. He has signed a three-year deal in Riyadh, but could yet come back thereafter.

It means Athletic will be forced to placing all of their faith in youngsters Aitor Paredes and Dani Vivian alongside Yeray Alvarez for the coming season, although both have been strong over the last season or two.

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