Man City target Josko Gvardiol’s ‘idol’ is the Premier League rival he can overtake as the world’s best.

Man City target Josko Gvardiol’s ‘idol’ is the Premier League rival he can overtake as the world’s best.

Manchester City seem likely to bring in Josko Gvardiol in the coming weeks – and all the signs are that he has the potential to one day become the world’s best defender.

The Manchester Evening News reported at the weekend that City had made an approach for Gvardiol, who has already been labelled as the “world’s best defender” by his national team coach Zlatko Dalic. Any deal around that figure would make Gvardiol the world’s most expensive defender ever, ahead of the £80million Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire and the £75million Liverpool shelled out on Virgil van Dijk.

On Sunday, RB Leipzig Max Eberl confirmed the defender’s intention to sign for City this window. The RB Leipzig defender has a £98m release clause in his contract that becomes active next summer, while Eberl has admitted a fee of £86million (€100million) could pry him away from the German club during the current window.

At just 21 years old Gvardiol could become a mainstay in City’s side for a while to come, where he will no doubt regularly go head-to-head with his former idol. The RB Leipzig defender previously admitted that throughout the past few years, he has idolised soon-to-be rival Van Dijk.

He said: “As a kid, I admired Lionel Messi, but now I am increasingly watching the players in my position. And today Virgil van Dijk is the best.”

Stats indicate that despite his age, the Croatian international may already be as good as the dominant Dutch centre-back was in Liverpool’s 2019/20 title-winning campaign. Last season, Gvardiol won the same amount of tackles (23) as Van Dijk did that season, as well as making 14 more blocks and maintaining the exact same pass completion percentage, 89.1%.

In 2020, Van Dijk was rewarded with a place in FIFA’s Team of the Year and a nomination for the Ballon d’Or. The Croatian defender is set to be rewarded with a move to the Etihad – and despite being ten years Van Dijk’s junior the signs are there that he could easily reach similar levels in the next few years.

According to the Croatian national team coach, he is already at that level. Speaking to the media just after the Qatar World Cup, Zlatko Dalic said: “Gvardiol is the best centre-back in the world. To play this maturely, it’s amazing. The way he plays, with what elegance he carries the ball.”

Croatia placed third in that tournament, only being prevented from a spot in the final by the defender’s childhood hero Messi.

Throughout all seven games, the defender displayed why he will be an almost definite success in Manchester as he was named in the Team of the Tournament. At 6’1″, he is defensively and aerially dominant, as well as being able to play out from the back with confidence; a necessity in any Pep Guardiola side.

He could play at the heart of the City defence for the next ten years and may well justify his tag as the world’s most expensive defender ever.

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