Aymeric Laporte Is Back & His Importance to This Man City Team Cannot Be Understated

Adam Aladay

​He's back!

After 143 days out injured, Aymeric Laporte made his return to competitive football as he started Manchester City's clash with Sheffield United on Tuesday.

The Frenchman has been out of action since he picked up a knee injury during the win over Brighton and it's fair to say his presence has been sorely missed in that time. In the 30 matches in all competitions that Laporte missed during his period on the sidelines, City managed to keep a clean sheet in just eight of those matches. 

In fact, they came into Tuesday's clash at Bramall Lane having failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous five games. And while manager Pep Guardiola insisted that he will not rush the centre-back back into action, he was handed a start with both John Stones and Benjamin Mendy missing the game.

There was a scare early on for all football fans, with Laporte staying down after a rash challenge on him. After such a long time out, there was growing concern that his return would be abruptly cut short. However, thankfully, he was able to continue. 

While he may not be at his absolute optimum level so soon after returning, it was already clear to see the huge difference he was making. 

He brought a calming presence to a ​City backline that has looked shaky without him, leading and commanding his backline when out of possession, while he was also comfortable and assured on the ball. He allowed those around him to flourish. 

One moment perfectly encapsulated just how vital he is to Guardiola's side.  

As a ball was whipped in from a corner, it appeared as though City were in trouble with both Oli McBurnie and John Egan attacking the ball. However, despite being out of action for so long, Laporte threw himself at the ball and ensured he got there first to clear it with his head, eventually winning a free kick.

The hosts continued to run at the 25-year-old and looked to put pressure on him at every opportunity possible. However, instead, he was unfazed and it was his domineering display that helped limit ​Sheffield United to just the one shot on target.

It is certainly not a coincidence that the Citizens ​kept a clean sheet on his return to the team, and they were good value for it, as well. However, Guardiola was forced to take Laporte off in the final stages and although he hobbled off, he did give a thumbs up to indicate it could perhaps be just cramp. 

Three important points for the Sky Blues and the manager will have been delighted with what he saw from Laporte on his return to the team. A vital player.