Real Madrid and Manchester United preparing for summer battle over Aymeric Laporte

Real Madrid and Manchester United are preparing themselves for a summer battle over Athletic Bilbao center-back Aymeric Laporte. The France international is one of the hottest defensive properties in Europe and has reportedly been targeted by the world’s two richest clubs.

United manager Louis van Gaal has made the 20-year-old defender one of his two main targets for this summer’s transfer window – the other being Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels. But today the Spanish publication Marca is reporting Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has told club president Florentino Perez that he also wants the young French defender at Santiago Bernabeu next season.

Bilbao are refusing to listen to offers for Laporte in the current window, but the central defender has a £32 million release clause in his contract and the Basque club won’t be able to keep hold of the player past this season should another club match that amount.

While United and Madrid both have more than enough money in their coffers to trigger the Frenchman’s release clause, Madrid may hold an advantage over their Premier League rivals.

Laporte’s France teammate, Raphael Varane, has already signed a long-term deal with the La Liga club. The Bilbao defender could be swayed to join the Spanish giants since they can offer the player an opportunity to lineup alongside Varane for both club and country. The two defenders would be able to strengthen their bond and perhaps develop into the best centre-back partnership in Europe.

Although the prospects of teaming with Varane will be tempting, Laporte would still have to battle Sergio Ramos and Pepe for a spot in Carlo Ancelotti’s starting eleven. Varane has already found supplanting the two veteran defenders to be a daunting task.

Pepe is getting older (the Portuguese defender turns 32 in February), but Ramos will be 29-years-old next year and has shown no signs of slowing down. It can even be argued that Real Madrid’s vice-captain has been playing at his highest levels over the past several seasons.

So there would be no guarantees that Laporte would be able to walk into Madrid’s starting back-four.

While stepping into Madrid’s lineup would prove to be a challenge, United would almost certainly offer the Bilbao player a direct line into Louis van Gaal’s match day squad.

Recurring injuries and poor performances have left defenders Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones on shaky ground and their futures at Old Trafford are in question. Should Laporte opt to make the switch to England next season, the centre-back would be a certain fixture in Van Gaal’s starting eleven from day one.

Whatever the case, fans can expect to hear Laporte’s name linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United from now until the summer transfer window.

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