LAPORTE DECLARES FOR SPAIN: WHAT CAN THE DEFENDER BRING TO LA ROJA'S TABLE?
He can now play for Spain at Euro 2020 this summer. 👀
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 14, 2021
The centre-back, in his youth, had represented Les Bleus 51 times in total among the under-17 and under-21 age groups.
Nonetheless, the 26-year-old was never given a senior cap, despite being called up three times by the present manager Didier Deschamps.
Laporte was born in Agen, France and therefore qualified for the French national side but was eligible to represent Spain due to his Basque descent through his great-grandparents and also that he came through the youth system of Athletic Bilbao.
Laporte playing for the French youth teams before switching his allegiances. (Image Courtesy: AS / Website)
The defender was granted Spanish citizenship earlier this week and FIFA has confirmed he can play for Spain with “immediate effect”.
A story by Marca earlier in the week claimed that Luis Enrique had lobbied with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to look into the possibility of Laporte changing nationalities, so it is safe to believe that the Manchester City defender will play a major role in the former Barcelona head coach’s plans for Euro 2020.
LAPORTE AND THE OTHER OPTIONS
Although, Laporte scored the winner in the EFL Cup final against Tottenham and amassing a third Premier League title in four seasons in Manchester, the season has been a topsy turvy one for him due to various reasons.
Having performed well in the previous season where he was the only centre back available for Pep Guardiola the entire season, Laporte went into 2020-21 as the go-to centre-back for the manager but injuries early into the season, the arrival of Ruben Dias and John Stones’ resurgence meant that he is no longer first choice at the Etihad.
Dias and Stones have been revelations under Guardiola’s new defensive system. (Image Courtesy: Premier League / Website)
Nevertheless, with the packed schedule that City had, Laporte still went on to play 27 games this season, where he started 24 of them, accumulating more than 2,000 minutes under his belt.
When compared this to the centre back options at Luis Enrique’s disposal, only Pau Torres of Villarreal and Inigo Martinez of Laporte’s old club, Athletic Bilbao have played accumulated more minutes this season.
Sergio Ramos, who will be Enrique’s first choice is expected to sit out during the friendlies against Portugal and Lithuania owing to his injuries suffered at Real Madrid while Diego Llorente of Leeds is still nursing his groin injury that has affected his performances drastically.
Sergio Ramos has faced numerous injuries this season and can be doubt for the opening part of the Euro campaign . (Image Courtesy: AS / Website)
A wildcard option for Enrique would be Eric Garcia, who is set to join Barcelona after running down his contract at Manchester City, and even thought the 20-year-old has had limited game time under Guardiola this season, he went to appear three times for La Roja, asserting some dominance in the position.
But it is certain that there will be a new pairing at the Euros for La Roja and the doubts over the fitness of Ramos might make Enrique opt for 2 of the upcoming centre backs for the competition ahead.
LAPORTE IN MANCHESTER
When one looks at the resurgence of Manchester City’s defence, one might think that Laporte had been absent for the entire season, owing to the performances Ruben Dias and John Stones have put in week in week out under Guardiola.
But the now-Spanish defender has played a big role in deputising for both of them whenever required in the 27 games that he played, and it is testament to his talent as a defender that only 14 goals have been conceded when Laporte was on the pitch.
In terms of numbers when compared to the options for Spain, Laporte has made 18 tackles, level with Ramos and Pau Torres, while Martinez and Llorente have achieved more but that can be attributed to the leaky defensive systems their sides have had.
WHAT CAN LAPORTE BRING TO SPAIN?
Similar to Pau Torres, Laporte stands tall at 1.91 metres and that amount of physicality is something that was lacking with the national side for a long time.
Laporte can be huge physical asset for Enrique in the upcoming Euros. (Image Courtesy: Premier League / Website)
Also, in modern football, an attacking phase starts from the defence and perhaps Laporte’s most hailed feature is his capability to start attacks from the back with his superb left foot.
While centre backs having a high pass completion value is not a surprise in the modern game, the number of forward passes are the ones that make a huge difference and Laporte is more than capable in starting moves for a side on his own.
His 244 progressive passes into the final third this season is more than any of the other centre backs in La Roja’s ranks while he also ranks in the 99th percentile for progressive carries for cnetre backs.
Passing and Possession stats of Aymeric Laporte this season. (Image Courtesy: FBRef / Website)
All in all, Spain have a great asset in Aymeric Laporte and Deschamps might want to look back at his selection criteria if Laporte goes on to make an impact at the Euros.