Following an excellent start to life with the Spanish national team following his pre-Euro switch, Aymeric Laporte could be the best partner for Rúben Dias for Manchester City next season. Although John Stones had an excellent comeback season for the Citizens, he was shaky at times toward the end of the season, while Laporte looked increasingly comfortable when fully fit.
More from Man City Editorials
- Phil Foden Scores Opener for England Against Scotland
- The FA Cup 1904; Manchester City’s First Trophy Ever
- Scandal Erupts: Raival’s Star Winger Antony Faces Accusations of Assault
- Man City Reigns Supreme in Ballon d’Or Nominations, Argentina Shines on National Stage
- Louis van Gaal Drops Bombshell: Accuses Argentina of World Cup 2022 Conspiracy!
Laporte never fell behind in the pecking order due to poor performances, but rather, lack of fitness and repetitive injuries. If he can produce a full season at his 2018-19 title-winning levels, City will have the ideal partner for Dias, who has emerged as arguably the world’s best defender. Stones, while he is fresh off an excellent year that earned him a place in the PFA Team of the Year and a presumed first-choice role for England at this summer’s European Championships, is not as good as Laporte at his peak.
Laporte showed this in his Spain debut against Portugal, where he looked calm and composed as he kept a clean sheet against attacking stars Diogo Jota, João Félix, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Notably, with a fellow left-footed partner in Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Laporte showed his versatility by having an excellent game on the right side of central defense. He may not have this responsibility at club level given the fact that Dias is right-footed, but it nevertheless further evidenced his quality.
City were much more solid defensively this season, but even this could be improved by a fully fit and sharp Laporte. At his best, he was the Premier League’s second-best defender after Virgil Van Dijk. If he can return to that form alongside Dias and the pair can build real chemistry, City would likely possess the world’s best defense. Although it would be difficult for Pep Guardiola to sideline Stones after such an excellent season, very few saw his resurgence coming at the beginning of 2020-21. In the same vein, Laporte’s return to the first team would be unexpected, but one that could, and perhaps should, happen.
This summer’s Euros will go a long way in terms of the perception of City’s central defensive options. Dias is expected to lead a Portugal team with eyes on retaining their continental crown, Stones is England’s best defender, while Laporte will instantly have the massive responsibility of filling the boots of Sergio Ramos, who missed the tournament through injury. If Stones were to struggle while Laporte and Dias are at their best, a transition could be on the cards far earlier than expected. Whatever happens moving forward, City have three excellent central defensive options and plenty of cover as they continue to chase their first-ever Champions League crown in 2021-22.