Soccer - Laporte set to play for Spain after being granted citizenship


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - April 25, 2021 Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte celebrates scoring their first goal with Riyad Mahrez and Joao Cancelo Pool via REUTERS/Carl Recine /File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte will be available for selection for Spain at the European Championship after his application to be a Spanish citizen was granted, a Spanish soccer federation source said on Tuesday.

The source said Laporte will be confirmed as a Spanish citizen on Wednesday by the government, allowing him to switch his allegiance from France to Luis Enrique's side.

Laporte represented France at under-21 level but has no full caps. The closest he came was as an unused substitute in two qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, which Didier Deschamps' side went on to win.

The central defender, 26, grew up in France but moved to Spain in 2010 to join the youth academy of Athletic Bilbao.

He was able to play for Athletic, who only select players with ties to the Basque Country, as his great grandparents hailed from the region.

He signed for Manchester City in January 2018 for 57 million pounds ($80.71 million) when the Premier League side exercised his buyout clause, a then club record for both sides.

Laporte has played 16 Premier League games this season for runaway leaders City.

Laporte was allowed to declare for Spain after FIFA amended its rules last year, allowing players to switch national teams as long as they were eligible to play for a second country at the time they first played for their first country and had not played more than three matches for that country before the age of 21 and had not featured at a World Cup or continental tournament.

The change meant Sevilla striker Munir El Haddadi was able to finally represent Morocco for the first time in March after being capped for Spain in a Euro 2016 qualifier in 2014.

($1 = 0.7063 pounds)

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

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