Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa (L) fights for the ball with Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte during their Spanish King's Cup soccer match at San Mames stadium in Bilbao January 29, 2014.
Aymeric Laporte Reuters

Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly set for a summer battle in signing Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, according to the Express.

The 20-year-old came up through the ranks of the Basque club's youth system before breaking into their first team in 2012. During the last season, the centre-back has made 35 league appearances for the La Liga outfit.

Laporte signed a new deal last December and has a £30m release clause. The report claims both Arsenal and United have long been monitoring the French U21 international and are considering an approach this summer.

The Old Trafford outfit allowed their central defending duo Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand to leave as free agents. United need reinforcements in the heart of their defence and are ready to trigger Laporte's release clause.

Arsene Wenger has Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen as the first choice central defenders. However, the Belgium international's future at the Emirates remains uncertain due to the lack of playing time last season.

Meanwhile, Arsenal and United need to act quickly in order to seal a deal for Laporte as the centre-half is attracting interest from top European clubs. The same report claims the Premier League outfits could face competition from Spanish giants Barcelona and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

The Catalan club's new manager Luis Enrique wants to sign a centre-back this summer as a direct replacement for Carles Puyol after the Spaniard ended his time at Camp Nou last season.

Meanwhile, Laporte revealed that he is flattered by the recent rumours linking him with a move to the Allianz Arena and was coy when asked about his future at Bilbao.

"It's a dream, Bayern is one of the best teams in the world. But I'm in Bilbao and I have a buyout clause of €36million. Would I consider the option of leaving? I will think, but for now I am calm," Laporte told the French newspaper L'Equipe.