Chelsea 23-year-old big-money target responds Stamford Bridge speculations

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Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte has refused to deny that the Premier League defending champions Chelsea wanted to sign him in the summer.

Speaking in the interview with French publication L’Equipe (via Sports Witness), the French Basque was asked whether the west London club did make an offer before the start of the season. The 23-year-old replied.

“I can’t say, it’s confidential.”

Bilbao’s policy is only to sign and play Basque-born players, and Laporte’s heritage has been questioned due to his very thin links to the region. The defender was born in Agen, France but qualifies very tenuously as a Basque via his great-grandparents.

The player has however stayed loyal to Bilbao so far, having signed a new contract in summer of 2016, that keeping him at San Mames until at least 2020. With the La Liga side in a strong position contractually, it’s likely any interested team will have to meet his buyout clause.

Laporte has a release fee of €65m on his current contract (£58.4m), but it doesn’t seem that the Blues or any other suitor clubs have been willing to match it so far, despite the centre-back being very highly rated.