{
    "title": "Laporte completes City's overhaul",
    "image": "https:\/\/images.supersport.com\/2018\/2\/Aymeric-Laporte-180210-Running-G-300.jpg",
    "body": "<p>\r\nThe club record \u00a357 million capture of French centre-back Aymeric Laporte took Manchester City's spending on defence in the past year beyond the budgets of many nations. <\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nBut the Frenchman could be the final piece of a more than \u00a3200 million defensive overhaul to provide the foundations in City's quest for a historic quadruple.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nPep Guardiola's men kick off a run of four matches in four different competitions on Tuesday with a return to Champions League action at Basle in the first leg of their last 16 tie.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nAn FA Cup 5th round tie at Wigan follows before Arsenal await in the League Cup final and then another meeting with the Gunners in the Premier League - where City boast a 16-point lead at the top of the table.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nHowever, it is for the Champions League stage that Guardiola was lured by City's Abu-Dhabi owners and given enormous resources with which to mould an all-conquering squad.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"I have always dreamed of big things and one of them being the Champions League,\" said Laporte on his arrival from Athletic Bilbao on last month's transfer deadline day. \"That is the No 1 objective.\"<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nVirgil Van Dijk's \u00a375 million January move to Liverpool means Laporte is only the second most expensive defender ever.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nBut City now boast four of the top six in that category with Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and John Stones also costing a combined \u00a3150 million over the past 18 months.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nGoalkeeper Ederson's performances have justified his \u00a335 million purchase from Benfica in the summer, while Danilo has largely been used as a back-up in both full-back roles despite also setting City back \u00a327 million from Real Madrid in the summer.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nIt is therefore little surprise that Guardiola's complaints that he \"had no players\" with which to fill his bench in a recent 1-1 draw at Burnley were met with little sympathy.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<strong>'SAME STYLE<\/strong>'<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nHowever, it does raise questions over whether another strengthening at centre-back was what was needed from a January window in which they missed out on more forward thinking targets in Alexis Sanchez and Riyad Mahrez.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nLeroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus will miss both legs against Basle due to long term ankle and knee injuries respectively, while David Silva's role in 2018 has been limited due to the premature birth of his son and injury.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"We have had a lot of injuries - Gabriel Jesus, David Silva, Benjamin Mendy - but hopefully we can fight for every game in all competitions,\" said Guardiola, who has changed his tune since describing the prospect of a quadruple as \"unreal\" earlier in the season.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"We can try and do absolutely everything.\"<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nSergio Aguero's four-goal haul in disposing of Leicester 5-1 on Saturday suggests City will have the firepower in the Argentine to see off the Swiss champions while they hope to have Sane and Jesus fit in time for the quarterfinals.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nAt the other end of the field, Laporte fits in perfectly with Guardiola's ideals with his left-foot bringing added balance alongside Stones or Nicolas Otamendi.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"My build up play is important and also my ability in the air,\" said Laporte on his biggest strengths.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"I have always followed Pep's teams at other clubs too and I have always loved the way they play...we have the same style of play.\"<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nYet, despite his huge price tag the 23-year-old's deficiencies were also exposed when he was outpaced by Jamie Vardy for Leicester's equaliser at the Etihad on Saturday to offer some hope to those aiming to derail City's path on all four fronts.<\/p>",
    "blurb": "The club record \u00a357 million capture of French centre-back Aymeric Laporte took Manchester City's spending on defence in the past year beyond the budgets of many nations.",
    "date": "2018-02-12T09:07:10",
    "author": "",
    "credit": "AFP",
    "img_credit": "Aymeric Laporte \u00a9 Gallo Images",
    "category": "Premier League",
    "videos": []
}