Who could replace Aymeric Laporte at Man City?

Aymeric Laporte is closing in on a transfer to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr. He becomes the latest Premier League player to swap England for Saudi Arabia this summer and will leave a hole in the Manchester City squad. Here’s a look at who could replace Aymeric Laporte.

The Spain international departs after five and a half seasons in Manchester. He was a regular starter during the 2018/19 and 2021/22 title winning campaigns and departs a five-time Premier League winner. However Laporte was less influential last season, making just 11 league and 3 Champions League starts as Pep Guardiola’s side won the treble.

Evenso, Laporte’s exit does further thin a squad which has already been hit by the departures of Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gündogan this summer. John Stones, Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji remain as senior central defensive options while new signing Josko Gvardiol is likely to have a major role to play this term.

City are therefore hardly short on quality in the position, but Guardiola’s tendency to at times use three centre-backs whilst often playing Stones in midfield, suggests an extra central defensive option may still be useful given Laporte’s imminent departure.

Taylor Harwood-Bellis

Taylor Harwood-Bellis
DeFodi Images / Icon Sport

One option for Pep Guardiola would be to simply place some faith in Taylor Harwood-Bellis who had an impressive 2022/23 season on loan at Burnley as Vincent Kompany’s side cruised to the Championship title.

The 21 year old City academy graduate is yet to taste a single minute of Premier League action but has built up experience over several loan spells and with the successful England U21 side. Guardiola labelled Harwood-Bellis “exceptional” when he starred for the club in an EFL Cup tie back in 2019 but has since been reluctant to propel the player into the first team set-up.

Numerous clubs are interested in signing Harwood-Bellis this summer with recently relegated trio Leeds, Southampton and Leicester all linked with the player while Premier League clubs Nottingham Forest and West Ham have also been mentioned as a possible destination.

The situation is complicated by Harwood-Bellis having just one year left to run on his present deal at the Etihad. Manchester City may need to make a decision before the end of this transfer window in terms of either tying him down to a long-term deal or potentially cashing in on the £15m rated player.

A new signing

On the surface, Manchester City already have their Aymeric Laporte replacement in the shape of Josko Gvardiol. The addition of the highly rated Croatian should strengthen City in that area of the pitch and it may be that the English champions decide a new addition is not a necessity, even if Harwood-Bellis does depart the club at some point in the next fortnight.

As it stands, there is no indication that Manchester City are on the brink of signing a new centre-back. Guardiola is not a fan of huge, bloated squads but prefers a smaller group where the players on the fringes of his eleven are still very high level performers. Therefore it’s likely that we won’t see much action in terms of a new central defensive addition, unless something else materialises beyond the departure of Laporte. 

John Stones has been ruled out until after the September international break while Kyle Walker, who is also capable of operating as the right sided centre-back in a back three, continues to be linked with Bayern Munich. City are keen for Walker to sign a new deal though and it’s unlikely the Stones injury alone would be enough to force the club into the transfer market.