The Daily Star reported United’s interest a few weeks ago, and now it looks as if they will have to face competition from Real Madrid for the highly-rated centre-back.
20-year-old Laporte has now been linked with a move to the Bernabeu by Marca, who are suggesting that, although Athletic are unwilling to sell him, the club will only be tempted if his €42 million release clause is met.
A French Under-21 international, Laporte looks to have an incredibly bright future, and United have been looking at him as a long-term fix for a number of their defensive problems. With no real top quality centre-back turning out at Old Trafford, the Star report believes that head coach Louis van Gaal has targeted Laporte as a shrewd investment, despite his young age and high release clause.
However, United’s move could come under even more threat by Athletic, who are reportedly keen on signing Asier Illarramendi, as per the Marca story. It has been reported that, when Athletic enquired into signing Illarramendi, Madrid in turn asked about signing Laporte in the summer, and the Basque club concluded negotiations. Although they are unwilling to lose their prize asset, Los Blancos could offer Illarramendi as part of the deal, and that could be enough to see Athletic accept their enquiries.
With United holding no bargaining chip in a potential deal for Laporte, it is likely that they will have to pay his full release clause if they seriously intend to sign him this month.