Aymeric Laporte: I will come back stronger when football returns

Laporte limped out of City's Champions League tie with Real Madrid in February
Aymeric Laporte limped out of City's Champions League tie with Real Madrid in February

Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte believes he will come back stronger when football returns following its suspension.

The sport in England is currently on hold with the country on lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Laporte has been able to recover from the injuries that have restricted him to just eight appearances this season.

“It was one of the worst moments for me, the injury, but I'm strong. I think I could be back stronger,” he said.

Laporte has missed most of the currently interrupted campaign with a knee injury suffered during City’s 4-0 win over Brighton in September.

He made his return in January, but limped off after just 33 minutes of the 2-1 Champions League last-16 first-leg win at Real Madrid on 26 February - City’s final game before football was halted.

But the 25-year-old, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “After the Real Madrid game it was not a big injury. It was something light. I could have recovered one week after the game, so it was not something serious.

“I am OK. I can play the rest of the season without a problem.

“When I came back I was very strong and very focused and my physical condition was very well.

“I maybe pushed too hard after coming back, too much to be on my highest level, but I worked a lot and for that I am happy because I could be in one of my best moments after the injury.”

Gifting Vastine's outfit to the boxer's father

Laporte received press coverage recently for a kind gesture he made to the family of French Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine, who died in a helicopter crash in 2015.

In an attempt to support health workers battling the coronavirus outbreak in France, Vastine’s father had donated his son’s Olympic outfit to a charity organised by handball player Cyril Dumoulin.

Laporte bought the outfit, paying a reported 5,000 Euros (£4,350) for the item, and gifted it back to the family.

“I saw on the Internet the auction of Alexis, who I know the history of because he is a big man in France for what he did in the past and because the history of the crash,” said Laporte.

“It was something very big for me and for everyone in France. Because of that I saw his father trying to help during coronavirus and to get involved to help each other.

“I thought it was the best thing to do to give back his outfit to make him happy. It is a good reminder of his son. It is very important for him and it is a good thing for him to have it with him.”

'The best two managers in the world'

Laporte joined City for a then club-record £57m in January 2018 from Spanish side Athletic Bilbao.

During his time with the Basque club he played under now Championship-leading Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa - a manager whose influence on his career he has come to appreciate more over time.

“Looking back now is different to how it was then,” admitted Laporte. “When I was working with him it was so difficult. It was training every day, maybe some times two times a day.

“It was difficult to think, to have time for us. But now I know I improved a lot with him and he helped me to improve.”

He also sees the influence Bielsa has had on his current boss Pep Guardiola, who has called the Argentine the best coach in the world.

“They are maybe two best managers in the world,” he added. “Different managers, but they know everything about football.”

He also paid tribute to former City defender Vincent Kompany for the role he played in helping him settle at the club when he first arrived and for setting the example for him to follow.

“Vincent is a very good footballer and a very good person,” he said. “He is a top man and he helped all of us into the locker room.

“He was attentive of everything, helping in every session. In training he was a fighter - an example for everyone.”

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