Aymeric Laporte looks set to feature at left back for Manchester City when they take on Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, according to reports.
The 23-year-old held the role as part of a back four during the Citizens' comprehensive 3-1 win at Everton on Saturday evening, with goals from Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling doing the damage in the first half before Yannick Bolasie grabbed a consolation for the Toffees shortly after the hour mark.
But in what was an almost dress rehearsal ahead of Pep Guardiola's men's visit to Anfield in midweek, the selection of Laporte while both Danilo or Oleksandr Zinchenko fit was most telling, according to Manchester Evening News' James Robson, who believes the Catalan's mind could already be made up.
Laporte left-back. Some kind of test for future games, perhaps?— Sam Lee (@Sammy_Goal) March 31, 2018
"City’s £57m record signing was brought in to form a long-term central defensive partnership with Stones", Robson wrote. "But with Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi near-immovable at the moment, full back could be his best chance of regular playing time.
"The left of defence has been a fault line for City in both games against Liverpool this season.
Mo Salah’s success in exploiting the space between Benjamin Mendy and Nicolas Otamendi caused City numerous problems in the game at the Etihad in September.
Laporte cost £57m. Walker cost £54m. Mendy cost £52m. Danilo cost £27m. Ederson cost £35m. According to Twitter, these ridiculous amounts of monies are the reason City are unplayable. Google 10 best defenders & you might not see them but it's the money...— Temisan Okomi (@temiokomi) March 31, 2018
"It was only after Sadio Mane’s sending off that a numerically disadvantaged Liverpool failed to take advantage - eventually losing 5-0.
"Laporte’s ability to play left back was among the qualities that appealed to Guardiola when first moving for him in the summer of 2016. And against an albeit limited Everton attack, he staked his claim to hold onto the position and try to curtail Salah.
Laporte to Announce himself to the world by Pocketing Mo Salah 😀😀😀— KDB🔶 (@GeniusKDB) April 1, 2018
Rem this Tweet.
"Comfortable in possession and positionally disciplined, this was an assured performance.
It was a performance that appeared to please his manager - Guardiola pulling him over to one side to offer words of encouragement as the game near its finale.
"On a day when Danilo or Aleks Zinchenko could have comfortably filled the role against an Everton side that offered little, Laporte’s inclusion felt like something of a giveaway regarding Guardiola’s plans on Wednesday."