Manchester United and Arsenal hold power in race to sign £36m-rated Frenchman

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Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea could sign Athletic Bilbao star Aymeric Laporte, according to Mundo Deportivo [via the Daily Express].

The 21-year-old has a £36 million release clause [Express], and with the might of the Premier League sides’ spending power his club may not be able to keep him at the San Mames. This would be a major blow to the Basque team, who restrict themselves to signing players who have roots in the area and thus have a small pool of players to pick from.

Previously, Laporte’s buy-out clause had prevented some of his EPL suitors from moving for him, according to the Express. However, with the Premier League sides receiving increased revenue, due to the improved TV broadcasting-rights deal, English sides now have a much greater clout in the European market. This means that any one of the aforementioned sides may not think twice in moving for the talented Frenchman.

The France international could be a great option for Chelsea, who failed in their attempts to sign John Stones from Everton in the summer. Blues boss Jose Mourinho still wants to go after the 21-year-old in January [London Evening Standard], but Laporte may be a better option, with the Toffees insistent that they aren’t selling [Bill Kenwright’s statement on the club’s official website].

The Red Devils were similarly turned down in their attempts to sign Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid [BBC]. Being eight years younger and more readily available, the Bilbao man may be also be an alternative transfer target for United.

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Meanwhile, the Gunners were the only club in Europe’s top five leagues to have not signed an outfield player this summer.

With their campaign already stuttering, manager Arsene Wenger may be forced to splash the cash in January. However, centre-back arguably isn’t their weakest area, with Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel Paulista, Calum Chambers, and Per Mertesacker making sure the club is well stocked in the position. The French coach’s more pressing need may be in attack or at the base of the midfield, where the Gunners appear somewhat lightweight.

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