By Adegboyega Adeleye
Spain defender Aymeric Laporte has left Manchester City to join Saudi Pro side Al Nassr in a deal worth 27.5m euros (£23.6m).
The 29-year-old joins five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic, Seko Fofana, and Alex Telles at Al-Nassr.
City signed Laporte from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018 for a then-club-record fee of £57m with his ability to play Guardiola’s style of ‘playing the ball out from defense’ pivotal to their five Premier League crowns in the last six seasons.
Laporte made a total of 180 appearances for the club, winning 12 major trophies including the treble last season, scoring 12 goals and making 28 appearances, as he found opportunities limited last season.
In a goodbye message on social media, Laporte thanked fans and team-mates for an “unforgettable” time at the club.
“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.”
Laporte switched his international allegiance from France to Spain in 2021, scoring 12 goals, and has 22 caps for Spain, helping them win the Uefa Nations League final in June.
He is the latest high-profile player to move to Al Nassr, joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic, Alex Telles, Otavio, and Seko Fofana at the club.
In July, Laporte’s former team-mate Riyad Mahrez joined Al-Ahli in a deal worth up to £30m, while Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves and Neymar are among other footballers to move to Saudi Arabia this summer.
Al-Nassr signed Ronaldo in December and the club became one of four Saudi Pro League clubs to be taken over by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) in June, the others being Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli.