Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde Against Idea of Raiding Former Club Athletic Bilbao for Defensive Star

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Ernesto Valverde is not keen on raiding former side Athletic Club de Bilbao for defender Aymeric Laporte, despite being on the hunt for a new centre-back, according to reports in Spain.

The Athletic only allow players native (or with family ties) to the Basque Country to play for the football club in a self-imposed rule, and, despite being a France youth international, Laporte is eligible.

The 23-year-old academy graduate quickly progressed through the ranks at the historic club and has been a crucial player for the Bilbao side in recent years.


Despite Valverde being a key mentor of Laporte in their days together in Bilbao, the new Barcelona manager is against the idea of stealing players from his old side, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Laporte has been a reported transfer target for the Catalans (and their fierce rivals Real Madrid) in recent times, as the 2015 Champions League winners look to add youth to a backline that currently boasts Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano, who are both the wrong side of 30.

Laporte is believed to have a £58m release clause in his contract, which Barcelona could activate, if Valverde can get over his former loyalties.


The centre-back has long been the subject of transfer speculation, not long after making his La Liga debut in 2012, across Europe's elite.

Under the tutelage of Valverde, Laporte helped Athletic win their first piece of silverware in 31 years, defeating Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate in the Supercopa de Espana in 2015.