In recent weeks the career development of the ‘canteranos’ featured in this column has followed a similar pattern, in that they have nearly always joined the La Liga club for whom they have gone on to make their first team debut at a very early age. The same cannot be said of Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte, who until 2010 was not even playing his football in Spain. The young defender was born in France and spent most of his formative years with Aviron Bayonnais, before moving from the French to the Spanish Basque country in 2010 to join the ‘rojiblancos’.
Laporte’s meteoric rise to the big time was confirmed last November, when he played the full 90 minutes of Bilbao’s Europa League tie against Hapoel Ironi Kiryat. A fortnight later he made his first La Liga appearance against Celta Vigo, albeit as a late substitute, and in the process became only the second ever French Basque (after Bixente Lizarazu) to appear for Bilbao in the top flight of Spanish football.
Laporte has remained in the first team ever since, save for a one game suspension which he served after being sent off against Levante in early January. Last weekend he switched from the centre of defence to operate as a left back for the trip to Getafe, where a fifth booking in only 13 first team appearances as well as his red card will lead to him sitting out next weekend’s clash against Granada. However setting aside this rather poor disciplinary record, the 18 year old clearly has a bright future ahead of him, and should any of the big clubs wish to acquire his services, the price nowadays to buy out his contract is a cool 18 million euros. Quite a transformation for a young man who this time last year was plying his trade for Athletic feeder club Baskonia in front of a handful of spectators in the Spanish third division.