Laporte has been France’s loss and Man City’s gain
Aymeric Laporte may still be trying to win the confidence of France coach Didier Deschamps, but as Manchester City travel to Laporte's homeland to face Lyon tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Pep Guardiola's trust in the centre-back is indisputable.
Signed for a then-club record £57 million (S$100m) in January, there was scepticism as to whether City needed to splash out once more for a centre-back, after spending over £80m in John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi and the return to fitness of captain Vincent Kompany.
On his arrival from Athletic Bilbao, Laporte took time to settle in his new surroundings with all three of his Champions League outings last season ending in defeat.
However, having had a full summer under Guardiola's orders in pre-season as he missed out on Deschamps' World Cup-winning squad, Laporte, 24, has become the stalwart of a City defence that has conceded just eight goals in 19 games.
In an incredibly deep squad with choices aplenty for Guardiola, he is the only outfield player to have played every single minute of Champions League and Premier League action.
"I can move the squad but when one player plays good, good and good, it gives me confidence so I give you another opportunity. It is not complicated," said Guardiola to explain why Laporte has not been rotated.
Another 4-0 win for the English champions at West Ham United on Saturday began with Laporte winning possession inside his own half and not panicking when pressed to find Fernandinho in the build-up to the visitors' opener at the London Stadium.
City are out to avenge the only blip in a near-perfect season when they faced Lyon to open their Champions League campaign in September and lost 2-1.
A run of 12 wins and a draw at Liverpool in 13 games since has put them back on top in England and within a point of sealing a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
With Laporte an ever-present, France's loss has been City's gain. - AFP