Josko Gvardiol is the £115m defender wanted by Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea

RB Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol is the £115m defender wanted by Europe's elite this summer

He is admired by Pep Guardiola, desired by Jurgen Klopp, while Chelsea were told £77.4million for him simply wasn’t enough. 

Throw in that he has been top of Tottenham‘s wishlist for two years and it is fair to say Josko Gvardiol is the most coveted centre-back in Europe.

His club Red Bull Leipzig have him tied to a contract with a £97m release clause in place for 2024. 

‘Josko Gvardiol will be an RB Leipzig player next season as well,’ said head coach Marco Rose. ‘I am the coach and I am asking for that. He said he wants to play in the Premier League, but he didn’t say when.’

The trouble for Rose is that those close to Gvardiol sense he wants that opportunity this summer.

RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol is the £115m defender wanted by Europe’s elite this summer

Gvardiol has never been shy to admit his ambition to play in England.

As an 18-year-old prospect at Dinamo Zagreb, Leeds United called Gvardiol every day. Marcelo Bielsa telephoned personally to present Leeds’ case. They showed him videos of his skills in defence and attack and offered Zagreb £17m. Gvardiol was tempted but was still to be convinced of his own capabilities.

‘I was like ”wow, they’ve really nailed this. I’m moving to Leeds.”’ Gvardiol said. ‘But then, I’ve had the same feeling after meeting at Leipzig. You suddenly become more realistic once you get the offer in front of you.

‘I reminded myself I’m only 18 and I’m not really sure how would I fit at Leeds, especially with all that packed schedule. I’d probably got massacred there at this phase. I decided Germany is the better option for my long-term development.’

Though Leeds would protest the contrary, it has been difficult to argue with his decision.

Gvardiol has grown at Leipzig and with Croatia. Now 21, and after Chelsea’s bold attempt to lure him away last summer, he is at the point where he believes the next step is necessary.

Bielsa’s seal of approval is usually enough affirmation for Pep Guardiola. Manchester City have been following closely, indeed Gvardiol is arguably top of their list amid concerns Aymeric Laporte will leave this summer. 

Gvardiol’s defensive performance against City in their Champions League last-16 first-leg encounter three weeks ago confirmed their belief in his qualities, the fact he scored too, underlined the extra dimension he can provide. 

Gvardiol rises highest to head home against Manchester City in the last-16 first leg last month

Gvardiol rises highest to head home against Manchester City in the last-16 first leg last month

The biggest obstacle will be Leipzig’s valuation….

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