The Frenchman playing for Spain: Aymeric Laporte was branded a ‘LIAR’ by France manager Didier Deschamps when he switched allegiances through his ancestry because he was unwanted

When Frenchman Aymeric Laporte crossed the floor – or rather the Pyrenees – and pledged allegiance to the Spanish national team in 2021, he was accused by L’Equipe of ‘succumbing to the Iberian sirens’. 

If the French hoped that siren song would lead to a turncoat’s downfall then a lot is riding on their encounter in Munich tonight. 

Sweet vindication is on the table as Laporte boots up for a first meeting with France in his new robes, a Euro 2024 semi-final the grand stage for it – and Spain are arguably favourites. 

That France lost Laporte is a failure similar to England letting Jamal Musiala slip through the net to scurry off to Germany. 

The former Manchester City star, now 30, played 51 times for Les Bleus at youth level.

Spain defender Aymeric Laporte faces France tonight – the country of his birth for whom he seemed destined to play 

Laporte made 51 outings for Spain’s youth teams but never gained a senior cap and switched international allegiance in 2021

Critics fumed at Laporte for making the switch. Tonight he has the chance to silence them

Born in Agen, southwest France, Laporte has Basque ancestry through his great-grandparents and began his career with the region’s greatest club, Athletic Bilbao. Already this fledgling footballer was causing a stir, as critics questioned whether he met the team’s distinctive Basque-only recruitment policy. 

It is a shock that he never earned a senior cap given his pedigree. Laporte was a transformational figure at Manchester City, bringing elegance and reliability to the backline on his way to winning five Premier League titles and that much-coveted first Champions League.

By 2021, the waiting game was up. Despite multiple call-ups, Laporte had not been given a senior bow, and in May that year the Spanish government confirmed his citizenship while FIFA approved his national switch. His ancestry and previous eight-year residency in the country was enough. 

One report by MARCA claimed that he started the application process as early as 2016 on the request of then-Spain manager Julen Lopetegui. 

Laporte claimed he had texted France boss Didier Deschamps about his conundrum and was given the cold shoulder. 

‘I don’t have anything personal against him, but if someone has a problem it’s him and not me.

‘I could be a world champion but these are the decisions of the coach, who is not calling me for, I think, personal reasons, and I have to respect him.’

His accusation of essentially being ignored by one of French football’s totemic figures caused fireworks.

Didier Deschamps claimed that Laporte was a ‘liar’ for his reasons why he left France behind

Laporte said that he had texted Deschamps and never received a reply from the France boss

Deschamps hit back, branding the defender a fibster. 

‘What makes me uncomfortable is what he might say, and that is a lie,’ Deschamps said. 

‘The only message I received from him was in October about a precise situation regarding an injury he had sustained in September.

‘He has that freedom. He hasn’t played for us? It could have happened, ten seconds would have been enough.

‘He has always been in the list of players called up, but there has been competition for places. 

‘Leaving him out is not a mistake, it is just my decision. I wish him the best and he’s free to make that choice.’

Pundits were less sympathetic after what they saw as an act of immense betrayal. 

‘When you sign up and feel French, you go with France,’ Jerome Rothen told RMC. ‘If you feel Spanish, you go with Spain. But don’t be opportunistic.’ 

Pundit Jerome Rothen felt that Laporte had been ‘opportunistic’ and slammed his decision to switch nationality

Emmanuel Petit questioned whether Laporte had any genuine fondness for Spain or France

Emmanuel Petit also questioned how genuine Laporte was. ‘So you can choose the country you want? Do you want to? He had claimed his love for the French team and suddenly went to Spain’. 

Tonight, at least for 90 minutes, the furore will be secondary to action and the twists of destiny in which Laporte will play a part. For many, he enters tonight as a French deserter. By Sunday, he could be a Spanish hero. 

Source link: The Frenchman playing for Spain: Aymeric Laporte was branded a ‘LIAR’ by France manager Didier Deschamps when he switched allegiances through his ancestry because he was unwanted