RB Leipzig and Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol has spoken on rumours linking him to Chelsea.
The Croatian international, 20, has quickly become one of Europe’s highly coveted young defenders at RB Leipzig. The centre-back further enhanced his reputation with a top display in his nation’s 0-0 draw with Belgium at the 2022 World Cup, helping Croatia qualify for the last 16 where they will face Japan.
Chelsea have been reportedly interested in Josko Gvardiol for some time now, and in an interview with The Athletic, he addressed the speculation.
“About me and Chelsea? I don’t know. You know what happened in the last few months. To be honest, I have no idea.”
“My agent is taking care of this and we will see. Right now, I’m happy in Leipzig. I don’t know, we will see – you never know. You know the stories and these things, but all I can say is that I’m happy in Leipzig and right now I’m going to stay there and perform for them.”
Gvardiol has enjoyed a solid start to the 2022/23 season with RB Leipzig, scoring one goal and helping his team keep eight clean sheets in 19 appearances across all competitions. And the young defender’s excellent form at the World Cup in Qatar is certain to attract interest from more European clubs.
Josko Gvardiol to Chelsea—Can he plug the gap in their defence?
Chelsea will be in the market for reinforcements after watching Graham Potter and co. drop down to eighth in the table just before the World Cup break. A couple of new signings in January are definitely required if the Blues are to make it to the top four and qualify for the Champions League next term.
One of the key positions Graham Potter must address is the defence, with his Chelsea side leaking goals for fun. Thiago Silva is well past his prime and edging closer to retirement, while Kalidou Koulibaly has yet to convince the manager and the fans alike with his performances at Stamford Bridge so far. And with Wesley Fofana out with a long-term knee problem, additional defensive reinforcements are the need of an hour.
Josko Gvardiol, in that regard, would be a brilliant fit at Chelsea. The 20-year-old has shone in his time in the Bundesliga and was wanted by Chelsea last summer, though RB Leipzig were understandably hesitant to sell. While the Blues have already reportedly agreed a deal with Leipzig for the transfer of Christopher Nkunku next year, Gvardiol looks like the next big name who could leave the Bundesliga outfit.
Tall, strong and aerially dominant, the Croatian international is a mixture of old-school, no-nonsense defender and superb passer of the ball, so crucial in the modern era. Gvardiol has been a consistent performer in Leipzig’s defence based on his average of 0.4 tackles, 0.6 interceptions, 1.5 clearances and 0.5 shots per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga. He is also an excellent distributor of the ball, as evidenced by his 89.1% pass completion rate (Stats courtesy: WhoScored)
In addition, the youngster’s ability to operate as a centre-half or at left-back makes him an appealing proposition to any manager and certainly to Potter. With Gvardiol’s stock skyrocketing following his performances at the World Cup and potential suitors apparently increasing in Europe, Chelsea must do everything in their power to seal his signature as the 20-year-old has what it takes to plug their holes in defence.