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Report: Barcelona beat Manchester United, close to deal with Athletic Bilbao defender

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Aymeric Laporte is one of the highest rated defenders on the planet, and has been a dream signing for Barcelona fans since bursting into the scene a few years ago. He has been scouted by the Blaugrana and many other European giants, including Premier League contenders like Chelsea and Manchester United. The Red Devils were allegedly very close to a deal with the French center-back, but things have changed.

That's according to the Daily Mirror, who claims that Barça have gazumped the talks and look set to sign the player:

Louis van Gaal has suffered a transfer blow after being beaten to one of their top defensive targets. Athletic Bilbao's French under-21 defender Aymeric Laporte will join Barcelona next summer in a deal worth around £35m.

That is a big blow for Manchester United boss Van Gaal as the club's scouts were tracking him as a potential centre half for the future. United are still trying to sign a new center-half or top quality after missing out on Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos last summer.

That transfer fee amounts to the €50 million of Laporte's release clause, which is the only offer Bilbao will accept to let their biggest prospect go. It's the Mirror, so it's tough to believe it, and to assume that Barça already has a deal in place. However, as we reported a few days ago, the 21-year-old is on the shortlist of defenders targeted by the Catalan giants for the upcoming transfer windows, so there might be some truth in all of this.

Hard to know, though. There's a lot of rumors going around. I might be dizzy.