Former Arsenal midfielder weighs in as Aymeric Laporte is slammed over switch to Spain

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Willow Austin
Willow is a lifelong Manchester City fan and freelance writer with a passion for football, analysis, and creating engaging fan discussion points. Have covered the Premier League, Championship, and European football on Man City related news over the last five years.

Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit is among those who have chosen to criticise Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte over reports he has chosen to switch allegiances from France to Spain.

The 26-year-old was born in Agen in France, moving to Spain in 2010 to join Athletic Club Bilbao, spending eight years at the club from the Basque Region, before joining Manchester City in 2018.

Despite representing France at Under-17, 18, 19 and Under-21 levels, Laporte has never played for the full national team. Thanks to a change in FIFA rules which allow players who have only played a limited number of appearances by age 21 to change the country they represent, he would be eligible to play for Spain.

The Spanish Government released official documentation confirming that the Manchester City defender has been granted citizenship, clearing the path for him to receive a shock call-up to the country’s European Championship squad this summer. 

Spain coach Luis Enrique is thought to be a big ‘fan’ of the left-footed central defender and one of the prime movers in pressing the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to ask the government to grant Laporte Spanish nationality.

Luis Enrique is expected to name his squad for the forthcoming European Championships on May 21st and barring a surprise, Laporte will be included in the list. 

That has resulted in a furious backlash in France with national newspaper L’Equipe writing: ‘Laporte has succumbed to the Iberian sirens when he has never yet worn the shirt of the French ‘A’ team.’

Jerome Rothen, who played for Paris Saint-Germain and France, was annoyed at the “opportunistic” nature of Laporte’s decision.

Rothen said: “When you sign up and feel French, you go with France. If you feel Spanish, you go with Spain. But don’t be opportunistic.”

Meanwhile, France legend Petit weighed in on the debate, he said: “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.”

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