Manchester United have been dealt a big blow in the transfer market even before it becomes officially open as French and Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte is reported to have agreed a deal in principle with United’s arch rival Manchester City.

Laporte 21, has been in hot demand of late, as he has been heavily tracked by both Barcelona and Bayern Munich before it cooled down after he was injured while playing for the France Under-21 team. This season, the Frenchman has managed to score five goals in addition to his two assists in 45 appearances in all competitions for the Basque side who were narrowly eliminated in the Europa League quarter-finals on penalties by Andalusian side Sevilla.

Under head coach and former Valencia manager Ernesto Valverde, Laporte has evolved to one of the best centre-backs in La Liga having made his debut in 2012 and going on to play 109 league games in four years scoring five goals in total. Bilbao are known as difficult negotiators as the sales of Ander Herrera and Javi Martinez to both Manchester United and Bayern Munich have shown.

The French man was signed from youth team Aviron Bayonnais and can play also at left-back. It is rumoured that he has a buy-out clause of €50 million in his contract which was extended in 2015 and runs until 2019. Laporte is yet to get a cap for the French national team with the likes of Sahko (Liverpool), Rafeal Varane(Real Madrid), Elaoquim Mangala (Manchester City) and Koschieny (Arsenal) all ahead of him in the pecking order for Les Blues. Bilbao are currently 5th in La Liga table on 54 points (six points behind 4th placed Villarreal and Last Champions League placed team) with four games to go.