Aymeric Laporte Opens Up About His Decision To Leave Athletic Club And His Desire To Return In The Future
Aymeric Laporte’s departure from Athletic went over much better than other players who had left the club in recent years. The Lezama graduate turned down several offers from European giants and extended his contract a few times, but was also open and honest about the fact that he didn’t know what would happen in the future. When he made the decision to join Manchester City in January it left Athletic with €65 million and the chance to sign Iñigo Martinez who filled the hole well. Laporte is currently in Bilbao on vacation and conducted an exclusive interview with DEIA which was the first time he’s spoken about his decision.
“I have many friends here and this isn’t the first time I’ve been back to Bilbao since leaving Athletic. A year and a half ago I refused to leave Athletic. It was an important decision in my life and I bet on Athletic, just like they bet on me. After my injury I had a difficult season. People expected more from me and being at my best level was difficult and complicated. I considered all options, but I didn’t intend to leave last season. If anything I was thinking about staying at Athletic for life, where I’ve always been very comfortable and had the support of the coaches and the fans.”
Laporte went on to say that he really started to consider his options when he was struggling to live up to expectations. In the end he decided to renew with Athletic and was very happy with his decision, but over time he thought a change a scenery would be best for his career.
“When I started to see that more was expected of me than I was able to live up to, I began to ask myself what was the best option. I had the opportunity to talk with several clubs and Manchester City came back. I thought they were the best bet because of Pep Guardiola. Before signing my renewal I thought about the possibility of leaving because there were good offers. I decided to stay at Athletic and I was very happy. But then I decided that something else was maybe better for me.”
The defender was always open and honest with Athletic and when asked about that fact he said that he never tried to deceive anyone about what he was thinking. He has a lot of respect for the club that gave him everything and still feels affection from fans who ask him to return to Athletic.
“Yes, you can ask Athletic. I have always respected Athletic Club and their identity. At no time did I try to deceive anyone and they always knew how things were going before anyone else. They have given me everything and I am grateful for that, its why I have always been up front and honest with the. I was here for many years and always felt the affection of the fans. Whenever I return to Bilbao there are many who ask me to return to Athletic. I have a special affection for the club and it wasn’t easy to leave.”
Throughout the history of Athletic there have been plenty of players who came through Lezama and went on to stay in the first team for many years. When January came around Laporte believed that it was the right time for everyone for him to make his exit. The days leading up to his departure were very emotional and it was difficult for Laporte to say goodbye to his teammates and friends.
“It was not easy, but they had to understand my decision. I know that there were players who came from Lezama and have been able to continue at the club for many years, but I thought it was the best time for me to leave, for the club and myself. My farewell was very hard. It was a difficult week and in my last game at the San Mamés I almost cried. It was a week of many questions and doubts, the end of a stage in my life and will always be remembered as one of the best. It was a beautiful and sad time. Leaving my friends here, my teammates who have always been there and helped me grow as a footballer, made it difficult.”
When asked if he would ever consider returning to Athletic, Laporte made it very clear that he would love to come back one day. He says that the club always treated him well and that he is thankful to have left in a good way. The defender will always carry Athletic in his heart and has a clear conscience about the way things played out.
“If I could ever come back to Athletic, I would love it. They have always treated me very well. I am very happy to have left a good image of myself, both on and off the field. I’m not going to tell them they did it wrong, but I think I’ve always done things well. I’ve been open with the club and I left with a totally clear conscience. I am always in contact with the club and there has never been a problem with between us. The truth is that I would have liked to say goodbye in a press conference, but I don’t know if I would have even been able to speak with all my emotions. The issue was that Manchester City also wanted to have my first words.”
Aymeric Laporte’s decision to leave Athletic was a sad time for the club, but replacing him with Iñigo Martinez has worked out well. Unlike most players who have left the San Mamés, Laporte seems to have went about it the right way and many fans still hold him in high regard. Perhaps he will be able to return some day in the future, but for now Aymeric Laporte and the Lions have gone their separate ways.