Aymeric Laporte focused on Copa del Rey final

Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte is focused on tomorrow’s Copa del Rey final against Barcelona despite speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United.

The 21-year-old centre-back is one of the hottest properties in Europe, with the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City all monitoring his situation at the Basque club.

However, it’s United who are reportedly the front runners to secure the young defender’s signature this summer.

Back in January, Bilbao would not entertain offers for Laporte. But it’s understood that United are contemplating triggering the France international’s £32 million release shortly after tomorrow’s Copa del Rey final.

At the moment, Laporte is not allowing himself to be distracted by the transfer speculation surrounding his future.

“What I’ll say is that I have a contract until 2018,” Laporte said. “So in that regard, I’m calm. I’m focused on Saturday’s game and right now, I’m not thinking about anything other than Athletic.

“I’m not thinking about any of that, truthfully. It’s not something that’s going to affect how I play the game. I’ll play the same way I always do: calmly.”

Barcelona are the clear favorites heading into the Copa del Rey final. However, Laporte says he and his teammates will do everything in their power to overcome what many consider the best team in Europe.

“It’s a final and [Barcelona] will try to be 100%, in everything they do, whilst we must try to be 200%,” the Bilbao defender added.

“We must show we’re capable of withstanding the pressure and the nerves. We know Barcelona are a great team, and we know we’ll have to do everything well and really go for the game.

“Playing a final and being able to lift a trophy is something that you will remember for the rest of your life.”

Laporte has made 103 appearances since making his debut for Athletic Bilbao club in 2012.

With his his team falling short of Champions League qualification for next season, many fans are wondering if Saturday will be the last time Laporte suits up for the Basque club.

Programming note: Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona will be shown LIVE on Saturday starting at 3:30pm on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com.

 

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