London (AFP) – Manchester City completed the signing of Aymeric Laporte on Tuesday as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reportedly arrived at Arsenal’s training ground to finalise his transfer from Borussia Dortmund, with clubs scrambling to beat Wednesday’s deadline.
Premier League leaders City are reported to have paid a club record £57 million ($80 million, 65 million euros) for Athletic Bilbao defender Laporte, eclipsing the £55 million they paid for Kevin De Bruyne.
The 23-year-old is also the second most expensive defender in history behind Virgil Van Dijk, who cost Liverpool £75 million from Southampton earlier this month.
Last week, Alexis Sanchez signed for Manchester United from Arsenal in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and with the clock ticking, it appears Arsene Wenger will land Aubameyang to boost his forward options.
“I am very happy to be here,” Laporte said in a statement on Manchester City’s website . “City are a club with a lot of ambition and they are one of the best teams in Europe.
“I am looking forward to working under Pep Guardiola and trying to help the club to achieve success.”
City boss Guardiola said Laporte was ready to play straight away but may need time to adapt to the Premier League.
“He’s fit, he’s been playing the last period,” Guardiola told reporters. “Of course he has to adapt because the Premier League is special in many senses.
“He is intelligent, he will read what is the situation. Even for English players, when they come into the Premier League it’s always a little bit tough. We will be patient because he doesn’t come for three months, he comes for five years.”
Guardiola has now spent more than £200 million on reinforcing his defence, bringing in Laporte alongside Benjamin Mendy (£52m), John Stones (£47.5m) and Kyle Walker (£45m).
A France international at all youth levels, Laporte has been frustrated at continually being overlooked by senior team coach Didier Deschamps
– Aubameyang flies in –
Sky Sports News reported later Tuesday that Aubameyang, 28, had arrived in Britain on a private jet before travelling to Arsenal’s training ground near London.
Arsenal are understood to have agreed a fee of around £60 million with the Bundesliga club for the Gabon international but the German club will reportedly only sanction the move if they find a replacement.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud is reportedly a key cog in the transfer — either as a direct replacement for Aubameyang or as part of a three-way deal, with Giroud moving to Chelsea and Michy Batshuayi swapping Stamford Bridge for Dortmund.
Reports in Italy suggest a Chelsea bid for Roma’s former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko has been unsuccessful.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte refused to confirm speculation that the club are set to complete a deal for Roma defender Emerson Palmieri.
He admitted recruiting defensive cover was a priority but would not reveal whether a transfer was likely and suggested a youth player could be introduced to the first team instead.
Elsewhere, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, 28, left Anfield on a loan deal until the end of the season after slipping down the pecking order under Jurgen Klopp.
Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu has become Javi Gracia’s first signing as Watford manager after arriving at Vicarage Road on loan until the end of the season.
Millwall re-signed veteran Australia international Tim Cahill, 14 years after he left the Den to join Everton.
Celtic have signed Chelsea midfielder Charly Musonda on an 18-month contract, with left-back Baba Rahman departing Stamford Bridge for Schalke in a similar arrangement.
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