Pep Guardiola identified Aymeric Laporte as a player he wanted to sign very early in his City tenure.
His form for Athletic Bilbao had caught the attention of several top clubs in Europe and playing under the noses of Real Madrid and Barcelona each week, the Blues knew that securing his signature sooner rather than later was imperative.
Laporte had passed on the chance to join the Blues 18 months earlier, feeling that it was too soon to leave the Basque side and that he was perhaps still learning his trade.
“I was injured, and I didn’t think it was the right moment for me to come to City,” Laporte later explained.
“The injury complicated things a bit but I knew that if I kept working hard, the chance would come as City knew the potential I had. I knew what I had to do and what I had to work on.”
When City did come calling a second time, Laporte didn’t hesitate, joining in the January transfer window and making his debut the following day against West Brom.
He was 23 when he joined, yet he already has a wealth of experience with 287 career appearances under his belt already.
Training and playing with Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones – not to mention the coaching of Pep Guardiola – saw Laporte quickly adapt to the demands of the Premier League and settle into life in Manchester sooner than perhaps even he envisaged.
In the current campaign, he has already shifted up a gear.
We’ve seen his many strengths already, just eight games in and he has a manner that all the best defenders possess – calmness.
“I like to think of myself as a modern defender rather than an old-school one,” he says. “I’m trying to evolve with how football is going but the truth is, I like the style of playing the ball out from the back and hitting long passes.”
But he is a mixture of many styles, too.
There were moments when he looked like a traditional English centre-half in the 0-0 draw at Liverpool with some thumping but fair challenges.
His timing was perfect and, moreover he looked as though he was relishing every single moment.
It was very much a non-nonsense, zero tolerance approach that contributed to keeping three of the Premier League’s most feared forwards quiet all afternoon – Firmino, Mane and Salah never really had a sniff against a stoic City defensive line.
Asked how he felt his defenders had performed at Anfield, Pep said: "Incredible.In the build-up, they had pace and rhythm and could read which men were free and we were so, so good, defensive is not easy when Liverpool put so much pressure on the ball.
"They attack with a lot of people and switch play to the other side and they press high and anticipate long balls.
"They (Stones and Laporte) are good and they are so young, but they need experience in games like today on big stages like Anfield against maybe the most dangerous three strikers in the world."
Laporte’s distribution is superb, too.
He has the ability to ping 60-yard passes to feet with unerring accuracy and his forays forward prove he is growing in confidence – he’s already seen a couple of howitzers almost find the target and don’t back against him scoring a ‘worldy’ before the season is over.
He showed his threat from set-pieces when he powerfully headed home the equaliser at Wolves earlier in the season, joining the likes of Stones, Kompany and Otamendi in being a worry for any opposition defence at corners and free-kicks.
For Laporte not to be part of the France team at present is an anomaly for City fans.
Though he was raised in Spain, speaks fluent Spanish and played the majority of his career in La Liga, Laporte has pledged allegiance to Les Bleus.
Yet to be capped at senior level, he surely cannot be far away from his first appearance for his birth nation.
But as long he is overlooked by France, the Spanish selectors will remain hopeful that they can yet persuade him to have an international career in red rather navy blue.
Unlikely as it is, you’d imagine if that were to happen, it would be something France would regret in years to come.
Source: Manchester City FC / David Clayton