Spain capital

Laporte to miss start of Man City title defense

Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte © AFP / Oli SCARFF

London (AFP), July 29 – Aymeric Laporte will miss the start of Manchester City’s Premier League title defense after the Spanish defender underwent surgery for a knee injury.

City manager Pep Guardiola revealed on Friday that Laporte needed the surgery after battling injury in the latter stages of last season.

The 28-year-old centre-back broke through the pain barrier to help City win their fourth Premier League title in five seasons after a dramatic final day win over Aston Villa.

“Laporte is injured. He underwent knee surgery after last season, playing the last two or three games with a significant injury. He made an incredible effort to do so, but he couldn’t continue,” Guardiola told reporters.

“So far he’s doing very well but you have to be careful because it’s a knee. He needs time. I think in August he will be out, but maybe in September he will start to be with us.

Laporte’s injury and the sale of Ukrainian left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal have weakened Guardiola’s defensive options.

City have been linked with Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella and it has been reported that he has now submitted a transfer request at the Amex Stadium.

But Guardiola said: “He’s a Brighton player, I can’t say anything else.”

Guardiola admitted that left-back is an area where the club are looking to strengthen as Joao Cancelo is currently the only senior player available in this position.

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“If it is possible, yes. If not, we stay with what we have,” Guardiola said.

“We have enough players who can play there. Joao can play there, Josh (Wilson-Esbrand), (central defender) Nathan (Ake) can play there.

City face Liverpool in the Community Shield at the King Power Stadium on Saturday in the traditional curtain-raiser of the English top-flight season.

Guardiola’s men begin their title defense at West Ham on August 7.

Guardiola hopes summer signings Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips can start.

Norwegian striker Haaland, signed from Borussia Dortmund, and England midfielder Phillips, tempted by Leeds, could make their City debuts against Liverpool this weekend.

The pair’s other new signings, goalkeeper Stefan Ortega and striker Julian Alvarez, are also in contention to feature in the friendly glamor at some point.

“The faster they settle, the better. My feeling is that they won’t take long. The way they listen, they behave and from the few games they’ve played, I think they’ll settle in well,” Guardiola said.

“Two and a half weeks of pre-season is too short but I’ve seen a lot of good things in that period, in the two games we’ve played, and with the guys we have, we’re going to move on.

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“It’s the first title, it’s an honor to play this competition. We’ll try to play a good match against a tough opponent.”