Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte claims to have turned down moves to the Premier League this summer, but remained coy on talk of a move to Chelsea.
Laporte was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in 2016, with reports in Spain suggesting at the time Pep Guardiola had made personal efforts to convince the defender to move to the Etihad Stadium, with the club ready to match his then-€50m (£44.7m) release clause.
The France international instead opted to remain loyal to Athletic, signing a new contract until 2020 that saw his buyout clause rise to an initial €65m.
But during the recent summer transfer window, Laporte was once again linked with a move to the Premier League, with Chelsea this time credited with firm interest in the 22-year-old. Reports at the time claimed Antonio Conte had identified the Basque as a long-term replacement for John Terry, who left the club that summer.
Chelsea instead brought in Antonio Rudiger from AS Roma and promoted Andreas Christensen to the first-team to fill the void left by Terry, but Laporte chose not to dismiss interest from the Premier League champions during a recent interview with L'Equipe.
"I had the chance to leave but I did not feel it," Laporte said, Talksport report. "Also because I was injured and did not want to leave. Chelsea interest? I cannot say anything, it is a personal thing."
While Laporte for the meantime remains committed to Athletic, there is less certainty surrounding his future at international level. The defender has represented France at every level from Under-17 to Under-21, but is still waiting for a senior call-up.
Having spent his entire career playing in Spain he has an invitation to switch allegiances and represent La Roja, and admitted his chances of catching Didier Deschamps' attention are slim as long as he plays for a club outside of the top two in Spain.
"One plays at Chelsea [Kurt Zouma, on loan at Stoke City], the other at PSG [Presnel Kimpembe]. I am at Bilbao, a club that is maybe not thought of highly enough in France," Laporte continued, Get French Football report. "Here, being at this club does not stop certain others from making it to the national team... It is as if Marseille are superior to Athletic Bilbao. Each to their own. If it is worse, it is not worse by much."
"If I am honest, I think that sometimes there have been injuries, changes and opportunities that have been given to others but not to me. A part of me is Spanish because I have lived there for eight years. But if I do [choose the Spanish national team] it will be because of how much interest they are showing in me. More than France are."