Manchester City want to sign Athletic Bilbaos Aymeric Laporte this summer, according to Sky sources. The French defender looks a good fit for Pep Guardiolas Etihad Stadium revolution, writes Nick Wright. Pep Guardiola counts Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa as one of his biggest influences so perhaps it is not surprising that he shares his idols admiration for Aymeric Laporte. The French centre-back was schooled by Bielsa as a teenager at Athletic Bilbao, and Guardiola is eager to continue his education at Manchester City next season.Sundays 2-2 draw with Arsenal showed why the incoming manager has identified central defence as Citys most pressing area in need of attention. This season they have conceded more Premier League goals (40) than in any of the previous five, with Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala struggling to meet expectations and Vincent Kompany repeatedly falling victim to injuries. Major changes are required, and while Evertons John Stones is among the names to have been talked up, Laporte appears to be the priority for Guardiola. Citys sporting director Txiki Bergiristain has already flown to Bilbao to discuss the deal with Athletic, and reports in Spain suggest City are ready and willing to pay his £39m buy-out clause. Laporte on City rumours Aymeric Laporte denies he has agreed to join City but Sky sources confirm he is a target. It is a huge sum for a 21-year-old still recovering from a broken leg suffered playing for Frances U21s in March, but he is due to return in August and the feeling in Spain is that he is worth the investment. Laporte has developed a burgeoning reputation over the course of four seasons in Athletics first team and has already amassed over 100 La Liga appearances despite his tender age.Basque journalist Endika Río has followed his progress from the start. He is a central defender with the profile that Pep Guardiola likes, he tells Sky Sports. Hes strong, tall and powerful but what characterises him most is playing out from the back. He makes the central midfielders jobs easier. He has good distribution and he has quality with the ball at his feet. Watch some of Aymeric Laportes best moments for Athletic Bilbao That technical ability is invaluable to Guardiola, whose attacking philosophy requires modern, ball-playing centre-backs who can build quickly and fluently from the back. The role was fulfilled by Gerard Pique at Barcelona and David Alaba at Bayern Munich, and Laporte, it seems, will be the man for the job at Manchester City.A money-spinning transfer to the Etihad would cap a rapid rise for Laporte, who was only 18 when Bielsa promoted him to Athletic Bilbaos first team in November 2012. It was quite a difficult year for Athletic, recalls Río. Javi Martinez had left and they were having trouble renewing Fernando Amorebietas contract, so Bielsa promoted Laporte even though he had hardly played for the reserves. A City ready for Pep The appetite for Pep Guardiola in Manchester will be greater than it ever was in Munich. Laporte was thrust into the heart of a struggling side, but the 6ft 2ins teenager swiftly established himself as a regular starter in central defence. Bielsa saw characteristics in him that fit with his style of football, says Río. He soon filled the gap left by Amorebieta. He was a boom.Bielsa loved Laporte - I dont remember a single fault I could tell you about, he said in 2015 - and he made 17 appearances before the 60-year-old was replaced by Ernesto Valverde in the summer of 2013. Bielsas gruelling training methods had taken a heavy toll as Athletic finished 12th in 2012/13 but the squad were reinvigorated by Valverde. Laporte, in particular, went from strength to strength. Laporte battles for the ball with Barcelonas Luis Suarez and Marc Bartra Laportes second year in the first team was Valverdes first in charge, says Río. The team finished fourth in La Liga and qualified for the Champions League. Laporte was part of the spine of the team and became the líder of the defence. He was still 19 but no one disputed it despite his age. Bit by bit, he has improved a lot in very little time.Laporte has come out on top in duels with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo since breaking into the Athletic team. He helped them reach the final of last years Copa del Rey and played every minute of their historic 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup in August. Laporte is a great player with every quality. I don’t remember a single fault that I could tell you about. He’s fast, he has character, he is competitive, he has very good technique and he is very intelligent. Marcelo Bielsa on Aymeric Laporte in 2015 Laporte is an accomplished one-on-one defender who doesnt shy away from physical challenges, but he prefers to rely on his fine reading of the game and intelligent positioning rather than gung-ho tackling. He has an excellent range of passing and averages more per game than any other Athletic player with the exception of central midfielder Beñat, while he is also a goal threat, having scored five times this season alone before he was injured in March.As for weaknesses, there is little to cause alarm. In some games you can still see his youth and inexperience, says Río. There have been some errors and he has been sent off for inexperienced fouls, but with time he has got better. You can see that he learns very fast for a player so young, and its not surprising that some of the biggest clubs in Europe want him. Laporte in action for Athletic Bilbao against Espanyol Like Bielsa before him, Valverde is a huge admirer. Hes young and he has to improve some things but hes already the real deal, he said in October. He is a player who is mature, despite his youth. On the pitch you see that because he takes responsibility for his position. Experience is always important, but if you already have that experience when you are 22, then imagine…Laportes rare combination of technical ability, physical prowess and youthful experience has thrust him to the forefront of Manchester Citys plans. Their defensive problems have been costly this season, but as they prepare to usher in a new era at the Etihad Stadium, Bielsas pupil looks ready to make his next step up with Guardiola. Also See: Sagna: Failure would be our fault Who gets into Europe? Has Pellegrni improved City? Kompany facing long spell out Brian Anderson Jersey . A spokeswoman for the NLRB says its "a very incremental move" and does not necessarily indicate the board is close to a finding in the case. 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Ilonen had just 26 putts on the occasion of his 300th European Tour event.ATLANTA - The Raptors will be without their sixth man for at least another week, they learned on Tuesday. After a re-evaluation of the ulnar collateral sprain in his right elbow on Monday, Patrick Patterson, who has missed the teams last five contests, was ruled out of game action for another seven days, though he will be able to return to limited basketball activity. Patterson, wearing a supporting brace on his injured elbow as he got some work in during Raptors shootaround, was disappointed to hear the news. "[Its] more bad news than good," he admitted ahead of Tuesdays game in Atlanta. "I had hopes that I would be able to come out here and participate with the team and get back to basketball." The Raptors versatile back-up said hes experiencing very little pain in his right arm, just discomfort, one of the reasons why he had hoped to be back on the court by now. "From when it initially happened up until now I had pain, constantly, on the court, certain types of movements or certain types of contact would aggravate it," said Patterson, who leads all Toronto reserves in scoring, averaging 9.7 points along with 5.2 rebounds since being acquired from Sacramento on December 9. "But now, today, theres very little pain. All the movements that hurt before dont hurt now. In my mind, Im thinking I can [play] just going off that pain factor, but doing the ultrasound and seeing the images and seeing how far its come along to today, Im definitely happy to know how soon I can return." Its not clear exactly how Patterson initially sustained the injury. He believes it originally occurred in a game against the Wizards back in February and he aggravated it in a win over the Kings on March 7. "It is frustratting," he said, not being able to pinpoint exactly how he hurt his elbow.dddddddddddd "If I knew what happened, hopefully I could prevent it from happening again." Patterson had become one of the teams most valuable and consistent contributors, anchoring a second unit that has been much improved since his arrival in December. In his absence, Dwane Casey has used the trio of Steve Novak, Chuck Hayes and Tyler Hansbrough as stopgaps off the bench. Unlike Patterson, a well-rounded, two-way player, his three replacements are best suited in situational roles. Each forward has stepped up to some degree, but Pattersons shoes have not been easy to fill. Without Patterson in the lineup over the previous five games, the Raptors bench has been outscored by a total of 50 points. The oppositions reserves have bested them by 65 alone over the last two contests. "At least we have to hold serve," Casey said of his second unit. "Weve got to find a go-to player or a guy that can produce for us, point-wise, with that second unit. Pat was giving us some points or at least spacing the floor for us where it did give [Greivis Vasquez] opportunities to drive to the basket." Casey would not call the latest news on Pattersons injury a setback. The team was not expecting him to be able to return right away. The Raptors forward will be assessed again after this seven-day period and if the new timetable holds true he should miss another four-to-six games. "It could be worse, thats the way I always look at it," said Patterson. "Thats what my team and the training staff is telling me, it could be worse, but youre in a positive situation, at least you know where you stand and how soon you can come back." ' ' '