Spanish defender Aymeric Laporte has joined Saudi Pro team Al Nassr from Premier League champions Manchester City for €27.5 million (£23.6 million).
The 29-year-old joins former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr along with Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic, Seko Fofana, and Alex Telles who have all joined the club.
Laporte was a key component in City’s five Premier League championships in the last six seasons and was acquired from Athletic Bilbao for a then-club record £57 million in January 2018. Laporte’s ability to play in Guardiola’s “playing the ball out from defence” system was the reason for this.
Laporte made a total of 180 appearances for the club, winning 12 significant trophies, including the triple last season, scoring 12 goals, and playing in 28 games because his opportunities were few last season.
Laporte expressed his gratitude for a “unforgettable” stint with the club in a farewell post on social media.
“It has lasted five-and-a-half unforgettable years. Plenty of memories that I will keep forever close to my heart,” said Laporte.
“From trophies to setbacks, victories to injuries, it’s all been part of my journey, and I’m grateful for absolutely every moment that shaped me into who I am today.
“It was an honour and a pleasure to wear these colours and I hope you will remember me in a good way. I will always be a City fan and I look forward to seeing you all again.”
“Aymeric has been an excellent player for Manchester City during a great time for the club,” said City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain.
“He fit into the team seamlessly upon arrival in 2018 and played a key role in many of our successes over the years that followed.
“The form of the other defenders in the squad made it hard for him to find sufficient game time in 2022-23 and we respect his decision to seek a move elsewhere.”
In 2021, Laporte switched his nationality from France to Spain, scoring 12 goals in 22 appearances for Spain and aiding them in winning the Uefa Nations League final the same month.
He joins other well-known athletes including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic, Alex Telles, Otavio, and Seko Fofana at Al Nassr as the most recent high-profile player to join the team.
Former teammate of Laporte’s Riyad Mahrez joined Al-Ahli in July in a deal worth up to £30 million, and this summer, other footballers including Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, and Neymar will also be moving to Saudi Arabia.
Al-Nassr acquired Ronaldo in December, and the club joined Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal, and Al-Ahli as one of four Saudi Pro League clubs taken over by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) in June.