Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte has hailed the influence of Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa and believes without his guidance he may not be where he is in his career today.
Laporte, who joined Pep Guardiola's side from Athletic Bilbao in a deal worth £57million last summer, was handed his debut by the Argentine in the Europa League for the Basque Country club in 2012 at the age of just 18.
The Frenchman qualified to represent Athletic Bilbao through his great-grandparents with the La Liga side having a 'cantera policy' in place which means players of Basque descent only can represent the club - the rule does not extent to head coaches.
Laporte was handed a new contract under Bielsa as he became regularly involved under El Loco in the latter half of the 2012-13 campaign before the Leeds United boss departed that summer following a disappointing campaign that saw the team finish 12th in Spain's top flight - Bielsa also failed to repeat any European heroics which saw Athletic reach the Europa League final just a year prior.
The 24-year-old has now become one of the first names on the team sheet at City under Guardiola, another fellow Bielsa disciple, featuring 17 times scoring twice in all competitions for the club so far this campaign.
Laporte though believes that without the influence of Bielsa during his formative years he may not have gone on to become the player he is now, telling The Times: "Without him, I might not be where I am today.
"It was Bielsa who gave me my first steps in the [Spanish] top flight, and so I owe him a lot. I’m very grateful to him and very aware of exactly what he did for me.
"Bielsa’s different in lots of ways, his character, his personality. You only have to talk to him to realise he’s not cut from the usual cloth.
"But he’s also a really hard worker: he never stops watching matches, he has an extraordinary knowledge of football, he knows everything about the game."