July 19, 2017

​Barcelona could be set to beat bitter rivals Real Madrid to the signing of Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, because he wants to play with Lionel Messi.

Laporte has become highly coveted over the past couple of seasons, and he has been linked with a move away from Bilbao for the past few windows.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 04: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona runs with the ball next to Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Club during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou stadium on February 4, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Spanish publication ​Don Balon alleges that the Frenchman would favour a move to the Nou Camp though as he is keen to link up Argentine superstar Messi, which will be music to the Blaugrana's ears if they are interested.

The 23-year-old has also been linked with a move to Manchester City and Real Madrid, with manager Zinedine Zidane viewing him as the long term replacement for Pepe, who now plays for Turkish side Besiktas.

Barcelona's coach Ernesto Valverde arrives before his first press conference at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona on July 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Barcelona are hot favourites to land him though, especially given that Ernesto Valverde is now in the Nou Camp hot seat - he knows all about Laporte having managed Bilbao between 2013-2017.

Barca have only managed to secure two signings so far this summer - Gerard Deulofeu from AC Milan and Nelson Semedo from Benfica - and will be hoping to snap up Laporte as well as Marco Verratti and/or Chinese Super League star Paulinho.

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