The paper suggests that the Red Devils will trigger the defender’s £32 million buy-out clause, paving the way for a winter move to the club.
Van Gaal is likely to reinforce in defensive areas, having suffered through injuries and a lack of quality at the back throughout the opening half of season. The club were only able to recruit Marcos Rojo at centre-back over the summer, despite the loss of both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
For many, Laporte would be an ideal signing. At 20 years of age, he has emerged as one of the most promising young defenders in Europe since breaking into the Bilbao team, with his recognition as one of this year’s Golden Boy nominees epitomising his development as a La Liga regular.
However, there is one statistic that is likely to alarm van Gaal ahead of a proposed move for the Frenchman: in 16 appearances this season he has made two defensive errors.
To put these figures into perspective, only five players in La Liga have made more mistakes at the back, while Rafael (1), Tyler Blackett (1), Paddy McNair (1), Luke Shaw (0), Phil Jones (0) and Chris Smalling (0) have all been held accountable on fewer occasions.
|Team||Appearances||Minutes Played||Error Leading To Shot|
|Jonny Evans||Man Utd||9||714||4|
|Marcos Rojo||Man Utd||10||866||3|
Manchester United's Premier League campaign has been plagued with defensive errors thus far, with the Red Devils responsible for more mistakes than any other top-flight side - 18 in total. Jonny Evans has been responsible for a team-worst four mistakes at the back, while Marcos Rojo is at fault for three.
Laporte is clearly a player with genuine ability, supplemented with fantastic potential, but much like the defenders already plying their trade at Old Trafford, he remains a raw talent. Perhaps van Gaal would be better served opting for experience this window: an imperious central-defender, capable of dictating at the back? As opposed to another youngster, whose inexperience means he is liable to make errors.
Mistakes are to be expected from someone learning the game, but the youngster would receive little time to settle into his new surroundings. The club’s problems at the back mean there would be nowhere to hide at Manchester United. He would be thrown in at the deep end and expected to perform to the standards set by his £32 million price tag.
For now, the Dutchman needs to look to experience, a stop-gap if necessary, while holding off until the summer window before making any long-term additions. There's no doubt Laporte will be an excellent defender in years to come, but question marks remain over his ability to handle the pressure of an intense top-four challenge; a scenario he would instantly be exposed to upon completing a winter move to Old Trafford.