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Pep Guardiolas Manchester City revolution is under way but is Athletic Bilbaos Aymeric Laporte the answer to their defensive woes? The French defender looks a good fit, writes Nick Wright. Pep Guardiola counts Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa as one of his biggest influences, so perhaps it is not surprising that he shares his idols admiration for Aymeric Laporte. The French centre-back was schooled by Bielsa as a teenager at Athletic Bilbao, and Guardiola is eager to continue his education at Manchester City next season.The new City boss has already made his first signing in midfielder Ilkay Gundogan - and another Borussia Dortmund player, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, could soon follow, according to Sky sources - but Guardiola has identified central defence as Citys most pressing area in need of attention. Last season, they conceded more Premier League goals (41) than in any of the previous five, with Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala struggling to meet expectations and Vincent Kompany repeatedly falling victim to injuries.Major changes are required, and while Sky sources say Evertons John Stones is also on the wanted list, Laporte appears to be the priority for Guardiola. Citys sporting director Txiki Bergiristain has already flown to Bilbao to discuss the deal with Athletic, and reports in Spain have suggested City are willing to pay his £39m buy-out clause. Laporte on City rumours Aymeric Laporte denied in May that he had agreed to join City but Sky sources confirm he is a target It is a huge sum for a 21-year-old still recovering from a broken leg suffered playing for Frances U21s in March, but he is due to return in August and the feeling in Spain is that he is worth the investment. Laporte has developed a burgeoning reputation over the course of four seasons in Athletics first team and has already amassed over 100 La Liga appearances despite his tender age.Basque journalist Endika Río has followed his progress from the start. He is a central defender with the profile that Pep Guardiola likes, he tells Sky Sports. Hes strong, tall and powerful but what characterises him most is playing out from the back. He makes the central midfielders jobs easier. He has good distribution and he has quality with the ball at his feet. Watch some of Aymeric Laportes best moments for Athletic Bilbao That technical ability is invaluable to Guardiola, whose attacking philosophy requires modern, ball-playing centre-backs who can build quickly and fluently from the back. The role was fulfilled by Gerard Pique at Barcelona and David Alaba at Bayern Munich, and Laporte, it seems, will be the man for the job at Manchester City.A money-spinning transfer to the Etihad would cap a rapid rise for Laporte, who was only 18 when Bielsa promoted him to Athletic Bilbaos first team in November 2012. It was quite a difficult year for Athletic, recalls Río. Javi Martinez had left and they were having trouble renewing Fernando Amorebietas contract, so Bielsa promoted Laporte even though he had hardly played for the reserves. A City ready for Pep The appetite for Pep Guardiola in Manchester will be greater than it ever was in Munich. Laporte was thrust into the heart of a struggling side, but the 6ft 2ins teenager swiftly established himself as a regular starter in central defence. Bielsa saw characteristics in him that fit with his style of football, says Río. He soon filled the gap left by Amorebieta. He was a boom.Bielsa loved Laporte - I dont remember a single fault I could tell you about, he said in 2015 - and he made 17 appearances before the 60-year-old was replaced by Ernesto Valverde in the summer of 2013. Bielsas gruelling training methods had taken a heavy toll as Athletic finished 12th in 2012/13 but the squad were reinvigorated by Valverde. Laporte, in particular, went from strength to strength. Laporte battles for the ball with Barcelonas Luis Suarez and Marc Bartra Laportes second year in the first team was Valverdes first in charge, says Río. The team finished fourth in La Liga and qualified for the Champions League. Laporte was part of the spine of the team and became the líder of the defence. He was still 19 but no one disputed it despite his age. Bit by bit, he has improved a lot in very little time.Laporte has come out on top in duels with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo since breaking into the Athletic team. He helped them reach the final of last years Copa del Rey and played every minute of their historic 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup in August. Laporte is a great player with every quality. I don’t remember a single fault that I could tell you about. He’s fast, he has character, he is competitive, he has very good technique and he is very intelligent. Marcelo Bielsa on Aymeric Laporte in 2015 Laporte is an accomplished one-on-one defender who doesnt shy away from physical challenges, but he prefers to rely on his fine reading of the game and intelligent positioning rather than gung-ho tackling. He has an excellent range of passing and averages more per game than any other Athletic player with the exception of central midfielder Beñat, while he is also a goal threat, having scored five times this season alone before he was injured in March.As for weaknesses, there is little to cause alarm. In some games you can still see his youth and inexperience, says Río. There have been some errors and he has been sent off for inexperienced fouls, but with time he has got better. You can see that he learns very fast for a player so young, and its not surprising that some of the biggest clubs in Europe want him. Laporte in action for Athletic Bilbao against Espanyol Like Bielsa before him, Valverde is a huge admirer. Hes young and he has to improve some things but hes already the real deal, he said in October. He is a player who is mature, despite his youth. On the pitch you see that because he takes responsibility for his position. Experience is always important, but if you already have that experience when you are 22, then imagine…Laportes rare combination of technical ability, physical prowess and youthful experience has thrust him to the forefront of Manchester Citys plans. Their defensive problems have been costly this season, but as they prepare to usher in a new era at the Etihad Stadium, Bielsas pupil looks ready to make his next step up with Guardiola. Also See: City in talks for Aubameyang City expect players to leave Wholesale College Jerseys Cheap USA College Jerseys . -- Al Jefferson found a groove just in time for the Charlotte Bobcats. http://www.jerseyscollegecheap.com/ . This should be celebrated because it will not always be this way. With the amount of money given to players by their clubs these days, it is a wonder that so many of those teams allow the sport to continue to take away many of their assets so they can play for a different team in the middle of their season. College Jerseys From China . Louis Cardinals. Victorino is batting sixth and playing right field after missing two games because of back tightness. College Jerseys Stitched . Neymar curled home a free kick from just outside the area to put the 2014 World Cup host ahead in the 44th minute. Three minutes after the break, a simple through pass from Paulinho freed Oscar and the Chelsea star rounded goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong to extend Brazils lead. It sure was a fun ride with Von Miller, John Elway and the Denver Broncos the past month and a half.The NFLs franchise-tag rule, which allows teams to keep their top players off the market while negotiating long-term deals with them, made for some particularly interesting theater in Millers case. There were weird deadlines set by the team more than a month ahead of the real one. There was an Instagram post in which? Miller cut Elway out of the picture to express his displeasure with what he would later refer to as some of the tactics Elway was using in negotiations.In the end, it all worked out, as it always seemed it would. Miller and the Broncos signed a six-year, $114.5 million contract extension?Friday, just a couple of hours before the deadline, and now everyone is happy. The franchise tag gave us all something to talk and write about during the slow summer months of NFL coverage, and for that we are grateful.But we got to wondering what this all would have been like if there were no such thing as the franchise player designation. What if that rule simply didnt exist? How would that have affected Miller, or any of the other players who were tagged this offseason? How would it have affected the market in general?Before we get too far into this, understand that the franchise tag isnt going anywhere. It has been around since 1993, first installed as an ostensible means of allowing smaller-market teams to keep their stars out of free agency and out of the hands of bigger-market ones. Over time, it has evolved and been used in many different ways, not always consistent with its original intent. But while top players and agents find it odious, as it restricts earnings at the top of the market, 99 percent of NFL players will never have to worry about being tagged, which means its not an issue the NFLPA is interested in fighting in future negotiations. Players can all agree they dont like it, but theyre not about to draw any lines in the negotiating sand over it.So?imagine for a moment that there was no such thing as the franchise tag. Here are a few different ways Millers past year or two could have unfolded:1. Miller signs an extension during the 2015 offseason.Knowing 2015 was the final year of Millers contract and they had no way of keeping him off the market come March, the Broncos could have moved to extend him last summer, as the Panthers did with Luke Kuechly, or the Giants did with Eli Manning. At that time, Miller probably would have been looking at a deal a little bit north of the six-year, $101 million contract Justin Houston signed last summer with the Chiefs. (Of course, in this alternate reality, Houston would have signed his contract much sooner and likely for more money, since Kansas City couldnt have franchised him in the spring of 2015. But just roll with us here.)Ndamukong Suh had just blown out the market for defensive players with a six-year, $114.375 million deal from Miami. Since Suh got his deal as an open-market unrestricted free agent, Miller (who had a year to go on his deal) couldnt have expected to get that much. So hed probably have just beaten the Houston deal and come in around $17 million a year instead of the $19.083 million he got. Look at it that way, and the franchise tag may have helped him. The year he played in the interim saw him add Super Bowl MVP to his resume. That pays big, as did the 8.4 percent increase in the salary cap.2. Miller signs an extension after the Super Bowl but before hitting the open market.Not knowing Olivier Vernon was going to get $17 million a year from the Giants once he hit the market, Miller probably would still have been negotiating off the Houston deal, though with a little more help. Suhs down year and the cap increase (which in February was still only a projected cap increase), along with Millers brilliance in leading the Broncos to a championship, put Miller in a position to argue to be in the same neighborhood as Suh. Add 8.4 percent to Suhs average annual salary and you get $20.5875 million. Millers agent likely would have started by asking for that, knowwing he wouldnt get it.dddddddddddd Thats a lower starting point than Millers agent actually used in real life. He was asking for $22 million per year when negotiations began this summer.3. Miller waits it out, hits the open market and cashes in big.What happens if Miller hits the free-agent market in March coming off the year he just had? You saw how crazy teams went when the Dolphins took the transition tag off Vernon. Miller would have been even more coveted, and likely soared well into the $22 million range. The case for paying him quarterback money after what he did last year and in the postseason couldnt have been clearer, and free agency is a time when teams dont even need a great reason to open their wallets. This would have been the best possible situation for Miller, who would have left Suhs deal in the dust and probably set the bar for the Andrew Luck deal that came a few months later in Indianapolis. Its possible, too, that Miller being on the market would have helped others. Maybe Vernon would have done even better, riding Millers coattails to a deal with one of the teams that didnt win the Miller sweepstakes. Maybe hed have priced Muhammad Wilkerson out of the Jets budget, since Wilkerson wouldnt have been subject to the nonexistent franchise tag either.Of these possibilities, the first is the most likely, since few players like to assume the injury risk that comes with playing out the final year of their contract without an extension. Theres no way to know whether the Broncos would have approached Miller about an extension last summer if the franchise tag didnt exist. But if they did, history says they likely could have reached a deal. And it probably would have been a smaller one than the one he ended up getting.As for the other guys who got franchised this year:Kirk Cousins, Washington: Coming off a surprise season, Cousins likely would have fallen into the same free-agent category as Denvers Brock Osweiler?-- a quarterback who has shown promise but still isnt a known quantity. Since Houston seemed to be the only team willing to pay Osweiler $18 million a year, its likely the only way Cousins could have made that much is if Houston had preferred him to Osweiler. Its possible Cousins would have had to take a shorter-term deal in the $16 million-a-year range with Washington. Instead, he makes $19.9 million for one year and has to prove he can do it again.Alshon Jeffery, Chicago:?After missing seven games due to injury in 2015, Jefferys best hope may have been a deal like the ones Doug Baldwin and Keenan Allen just signed in Seattle and San Diego. And even that $11.5 million-a-year range may have been tough to convince someone to cough up for a guy who wasnt healthy all season. Instead, he makes $14.599 million for one year.Eric Berry, Kansas City:?Maybe emotion would have carried the day back in March, and Kansas City would have locked up Berry the way the Patriots did Devin McCourty ($9.5 million a year) one year before. But if Berry was looking to be the highest-paid safety in the league, he probably could have scored a $10-plus-million-a-year deal on the open market. Kansas City froze him at $10.806 million for one year, and knowing his tag next year will be almost $13 million set his expectations higher than made the Chiefs comfortable.Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets:?Everything written about Miller applies here, as Wilkerson was the only other franchise player whose franchise tag number was lower than his market value. He wouldnt have broken any records, but Wilkerson would have done well on the open market, likely securing greater guarantees than the Jets gave him in the extension done Friday.Trumaine Johnson, Los Angeles:?Former teammate Janoris Jenkins got $12.5 million a year from the Giants, so its fair to assume Johnson could have got the same from some other team. Corners are in demand.Justin Tucker, Baltimore:?Probably gets the same exact deal he just got, only sooner. 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