Aymeric Laporte will be out for the rest of the year. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Pep Guardiola will look at signing a new centre-back in the January transfer window after Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte was ruled out for the rest of the year.

Laporte, who was taken off on a stretcher in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Brighton at the Etihad, had an operation in Barcelona to repair the lateral cartilage in his right knee and is expected to be out for more than four months. His absence leaves Guardiola with just two recognised centre-backs in Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones, who has missed the last three games with a thigh injury.

It will also raise questions over City’s decision not to sign another central defender this summer following Vincent Kompany’s departure to Anderlecht.

The Premier League champions were competing with Manchester United for Harry Maguire, but pulled out of the running once the bidding went above £65million, and were reluctant to make an alternative signing for the sake of it. Guardiola, who spent £122m on Rodri and Joao Cancelo, claimed at the weekend that there wasn’t enough money available to recruit another centre-back after seeing Laporte injured in a challenge with Brighton’s Adam Webster.

‘The club told me there’s a limit and we can’t go for it right now,’ said the City boss. Defensive midfielder Fernandinho replaced Laporte on Saturday and offers a short-term solution if either Stones or Otamendi are missing.

Guardiola will push the club to buy another defender in January even if Laporte is close to a return. The problem is that any mid- season targets might be cup-tied in Europe. Laporte himself was a January signing in 2018 but was eligible for the Champions League because he had only played in the Europa League for Athletic Bilbao before signing for £57m.

The Frenchman has since developed into City’s best centre-back and it was a huge blow when he was carried off before half-time at the Etihad.

Laporte, 25, has been operated on by Dr Ramon Cugat in Barcelona and City confirmed the news in a statement, which said: ‘Aymeric Laporte has undergone surgery on his knee after damaging his cartilage and lateral meniscus. The surgery was successful.’

It’s the second serious knee injury to hit City after Leroy Sane ruptured the ACL in his right knee in the Community Shield win over Liverpool last month. Sane was ruled out for up to seven months, wrecking any hopes of a move to Bayern Munich this summer.

The Bundesliga club signed Ivan Perisic on a season-long loan from Inter Milan instead but are expected to revive their interest in Sane in January.

Daily Mail