Spain defender Laporte takes aim at critics after strong Euros start

AFP , Saturday 22 Jun 2024

Spain defender Aymeric Laporte fired a shot at his critics on Saturday after his fine display against Italy at Euro 2024.

Spain s defender #14 Aymeric Laporte attends a press conference during the UEFA Euro 2024 European Football Championship, at the team s base camp in Donaueschingen, on June 22, 2024. AFP

The 30-year-old centre-back, now playing for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, started as Spain defeated the reigning champions 1-0 on Thursday to qualify for the last 16 top from Group B.

Laporte missed the opening 3-0 win against Croatia with a muscular problem and some Spanish media speculated over whether he was at the right level to play for La Roja after a year in the Saudi league.

"They said everything, there was a lot of speculation and not enough information to come out with so many opinions," Laporte told a news conference ahead of the third group match against Albania on Monday.

"There's a lot of bad information out there that generates more headlines... I prepared myself (to play at the Euros)."

Laporte arrived in Germany after his team-mates, and coach Luis de la Fuente said although the former Manchester City player could have featured against Croatia, it was better not to take risks.

"I played 90 minutes against Italy and I feel good," added Laporte.

"I spoke with the (Spain) coach before taking the decision to go to Saudi Arabia.

"For me the national team is very important, it's one of the most important things in my career.

"I'm proud of representing Spain, each time I wear the shirt I feel very proud and like I identify."

Laporte, born in the French Basque region, became a naturalised Spaniard in 2021.

The defender played alongside Robin Le Normand, another French-born player, against Italy.

"I speak (to him) a lot on the pitch, we have fluid communication," said Laporte.

"On and off the pitch we're constantly talking, we played well against Italy."

In January Laporte said many new players in the Saudi league coming from Europe were not happy, but defended the competition on Friday.

"I think people are prejudiced about it," he explained.

"It's also true that it's a young league, in terms of marketing it's evolving bit by bit and maybe in the future it will be seen as a more competitive league.

"But I also have to say that the player of the match in both of France's games was (Al-Ittihad player N'Golo) Kante, and that shows something."

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