Athletic Bilbao president Joan Uriarte has said that they almost completed the signing of Aymeric Laporte before his move to Al-Nassr.

As quoted by SPORT, the 61-year-old made a candid admission about the Spanish international’s return to his former club.

It seems like Jon Uriarte believes Aymeric Laporte was close to signing for Athletic Bilbao after his exit from Manchester City this summer.

Athletic Bilbao president Jon Uriarte says Aymeric Laporte return was close

Branded as ‘absolutely world-class’ by Steph Houghton, the 29-year-old made a surprise move to the Saudi Pro League.

Despite being one of the best defenders on the planet, it seemed like not many clubs in Europe expressing enough interest towards finalizing a deal for him.

Now, Jon Uriarte has revealed that there was a high possibility that former Manchester City centre-back Aymeric Laporte returned to Athletic Bilbao.

Al-Nassr v Al-Shabab - Saudi Pro League
Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

“We have always conveyed Athletic’s interest, if at some point it were possible, in having him back, and he has always let us know that, in a hypothetical case, he would love to return to play here. This summer we have worked along these lines.”

“We were there, but we were unlucky that Al-Nassr came along. We couldn’t get into a bidding war with a Saudi Arabian team, we knew we would lose. If Al-Nassr didn’t turn up, the player would be with us.”

Aymeric Laporte perhaps only wanted to play at the highest level in Europe

While a return to Athletic Bilbao could well have tempted Aymeric Laporte, it seems like he decided to join Al-Nassr instead due to his unwillingness to take such a downward step from playing for Manchester City.

After all, a player of the treble-winner’s caliber should be competing for leagues and Champions League trophies, especially at his age.

As a result, perhaps Laporte felt that a move to Saudi Arabia would allow him to experience playing in a completely new league and country, which he may have decided to prioritize instead of moving back to Spain.

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