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Arsenal & Manchester United target: Barca would be a dream

Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte has said it "would be a dream" to join Barcelona and replace Carlos Puyol but insists nothing has been agreed.

The French defender is in high demand across Europe with Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester United and Bayern Munich all interested in securing the services of one of La Liga's most talented young stars.

However, it is Barcelona who have flattered Laporte and the defender revealed "it’s impressive that Barcelona have shown interest in me.”

Speaking to French newspaper L'Equipe, the youngster declared that it would be a "dream" to replace Carlos Puyol at the Catalan club, after the Spaniard retired last month.

"When talking about Carles Puyol, you’re talking about a footballing legend. And with him, Barcelona has won everything over the past several years. It’d be a dream come true [to replace Puyol at Barcelona]."

The 20-year-old made 38 appearances in all competitions for Bilbao last season, and is an integral part of the side.

He signed a new contract during the last campaign that saw his buyout clause rise to £30 million and he is contracted with the club for four more years.

“I have an existing contract with Athletic until 2018.

“At the moment, there’s nothing concrete. I feel good at Bilbao and I have a €36 million release clause and if the day comes that I receive an offer to leave, I’d have to think about it. At the moment, I'm relaxed," Laporte said.

Arsenal and Manchester United are believed to be willing to trigger his release clause to secure the defender, but it is Barca who remain favourites to sign him.

Laporte may have angered Athletic Bilbao fans with his comments, but he added that he would not be disappointed were he to remain with the club next season.

“Disappointment? No, not in the least bit. I’m on a great team, playing in one of the best leagues in the world.”

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