Manchester United linked with “new Laurent Blanc”

Manchester United sources claim the club’s search for a new centre-back is over after Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos spurned the Red Devils’ advances to remain at the Bernabeu.

However, United chief executive Ed Woodward was reportedly seen at the Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao match last night casting an eye over France U21 centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

While Woodward’s primary objective in Spain was to tie up the drawn-out signing of Barca forward Pedro, it is now thought that United are keen to see Laporte follow in the footsteps of the likes of fellow Frenchmen Patrice Evra, Laurent Blanc and Mikael Silvestre by making the move to Old Trafford.

And according to some interesting stats put together by, United manager Louis van Gaal would be signing one hell of a prospect.

According to the website, Laporte was one of the top five rated defenders aged under 23 who played more than 20 games in the 2014-15 season, with his impressive stats standing up to the likes of Everton’s £35m-rated John Stones, Real’s Raphael Varane, Lyon’s Samuel Umtiti and Atletico Madrid ace Jose Giminez.

With an average of 3.7 interceptions per game, the highest among those five, the former Bayonne youth has a clear knack for being in the right place at the right time. Laporte also ranked second for aerial duels won (2.8) and tackles per game (1.9).

Laporte is currently contracted to remain at the San Mames until 2019 and with a buy-out clause rumoured to be in the region of £36.5m he wouldn’t come cheap.

And, having started the new campaign with back-to-back clean sheets, Van Gaal may be happy with the defenders already at his disposal.

However, his pursuit of Ramos says otherwise and with Jonny Evans rumoured to be on his way to Everton there would be room for one more to come in – and certainly for a player of Laporte’s ilk.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.