Athletic Bilbao says Laporte is leaving the Spanish club

 
 
Updated 1/29/2018 10:48 AM
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  • FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte in action during Copa del Rey, 16 round, against FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain. 23-year-old Athletic Bilbao says defender Frenchman Aymeric Laporte is reported Monday Jan. 29, 2018, to have paid his buyout clause, looks set to leave the club, opening the way for a transfer to Manchester City.

    FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte in action during Copa del Rey, 16 round, against FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain. 23-year-old Athletic Bilbao says defender Frenchman Aymeric Laporte is reported Monday Jan. 29, 2018, to have paid his buyout clause, looks set to leave the club, opening the way for a transfer to Manchester City. Associated Press

MADRID -- Defender Aymeric Laporte has paid his buyout clause and is leaving Athletic Bilbao, opening the way for a transfer to Manchester City.

The 23-year-old Frenchman has been closely linked with a move to the English Premier League leader and was left out of Athletic's squad in its Spanish league match on Saturday.

Athletic said the payment of the buyout clause of 65 million euros ($80.8 million) was made on Monday, effectively ending Laporte's contract with the Spanish club.

The player said on his social media accounts that he wanted to bid farewell to Athletic fans through a news conference, something that Athletic agreed with, but "it will not be possible because of the norms in place at the other club."

He did not name Manchester City or any other team.

"All I know is that I will never forget the place where I've become a better player and a better person," said Laporte, who joined the Basque Country club in the 2009-10 season. "That's why this is not a 'Goodbye,' only a 'See you soon,' and why I'll forever keep Athletic in my heart."

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More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

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