Athletic ace Laporte buoyed by Barcelona and Bayern links

The youngster is flattered by reports linking him with the Blaugrana and the Bavarians but pointed out that he has a contract until 2018

Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte has been buoyed by reports linking him with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The 20-year-old made 35 Liga appearances last season and has developed into one of the most promising central defenders in the Primera Division.

Laporte’s impressive form for Athletic has allegedly attracted the interest of both Barca and Bayern, with the former said to be keen on signing the youngster as a replacement for Carles Puyol, who has already confirmed he is leaving Camp Nou this summer.

Laporte freely admits that he is flattered to be linked with such high-profile clubs, and to be touted as a potential successor to such an iconic defender.

“It is impressive that Barcelona and Bayern have been interested in me. It is the fruit of my hard work but I think you have to take a certain lightness because it does not correspond to a reality,” Laporte told French newspaper L’Equipe.

“If you say tomorrow ‘You’re going to replace Carles Puyol,’ how do you respond?

“When you talk about Puyol you speak of a myth of football. At Barcelona, in recent years, he has won almost everything. He is a dream. He is the envy of all.

“Bayern are also one of the biggest teams in the world, but I repeat that I am under contract with Athletic until 2018.”

Should Barcelona or Bayern fail to prize Laporte away from Athletic this summer, the centre-back will still get to compete in the Champions League after the San Mames side qualified for Europe’s top competition with a fourth-place finish in La Liga last term.

But when asked whether it would be a disappointment to stay with Athletic next season, Laporte said: “No, if anything it would be a great team.

“To play in one of the best Championships in the world is already very nice.”

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