Mens Team

Laporte the world’s best for Guardiola

HIGH FIVE: Sergio Aguero celebrates with Aymeric Laporte.
Pep Guardiola believes Aymeric Laporte is the best left-sided centre-half in world football.

Pep Guardiola believes Aymeric Laporte is the best left-sided centre-half in world football.

The 25-year-old made his return from a five-month injury lay-off in Manchester City’s 1-0 win at Sheffield United and played 78 minutes on his comeback.

READ | Aguero down's Sheffield United as Laporte returns

Thrust back into the hustle and bustle of Premier League football, Laporte was typically composed and Guardiola was delighted with a player he says is vital to the style of player he wants to implement.

“We missed him a lot,” said the boss. “He has something we don’t have in the squad.

“He is left footed and plays left sided central defender. He makes our build up quicker, not because the other ones can’t, but because he is the only left footed central defender.

“For the way we want to play, he is so important. Apart from his character and mentality, he has all the attributes to be what he is.

“For me, when he is fit, he is the best left sided centre back in the world.”

WATCH: Guardiola praise for City's timely response

Laporte’s inclusion in the starting XI caught many by surprise, having only returned to team training at the start of January, but Guardiola had no qualms about putting him against a Sheffield United side who thrive at home.

However, the boss did concede the Frenchman’s return did affect how his team set-up at Bramall Lane and admitted he knew beforehand that Laporte would no complete the full 90 minutes.

“We played with five defenders so we were a little bit more protected,” Pep explained.

“I spoke to him yesterday, the doctor said he is ready. He said ‘I feel good, but I don’t have rhythm’. I said ‘you are going to take the rhythm from games, not just from training sessions’.

“He can do what we ask perfectly. He was protected more with Oleks [Zinchenko], Nico [Otamendi] and Fernandinho close to him.

“There was less space to defend, so he could do it and he did it really well.

“It’s good news for us. Aymeric put 65-70 minutes in his legs and this first step is good. Hopefully he can help us to the end of the season.”

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