An ageing Croatian side have progressed to the quarter-finals in Qatar with relatively little fanfare, though one player who has stood out is precocious 20-year-old centre-back Gvardiol.
The youngster has delivered a string of consistently excellent defensive performances – making one incredible challenge on Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku – and has fully justified his hype as one of Europe’s most exciting young players.
Chelsea tried to sign Gvardiol in the summer and are believed to be keen to try and secure a deal next year, while the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Juventus are all interested too.
But, for now, the Croatian defender is not thinking about a summer transfer and is enjoying his time at Leipzig under new boss Marco Rose.
Speaking to Sky Sports Germany, Gvardiol’s agent, Marjan Sisic, said: ‘Regarding a possible transfer in the summer of 2023 we are not in a hurry.
‘I can also make it clear that there are no pre-agreements with any clubs. For sure, a lot of top clubs are informed about him but Josko has a long-term contract in Leipzig.
‘Josko feels totally happy in Leipzig. His development is amazing and RB are playing very well under Marco Rose.’
Chelsea are rumoured to have already agreed a deal with Leipzig for Gvardiol’s team-mate Christopher Nkunku and had been hoping to strike a similar arrangement with the German side for the centre-back.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has been enormously impressed by Gvardiol, saying on punditry duty for the BBC: ‘I have to say, he has been my favourite defender to watch in the tournament so far.
‘He has got a great presence, he is happy for the battles, very physical and has a wand for a left foot. He has got pace too and I think all those attributes you need as a modern day defender.
‘He can pay the ball over various distances, he has pinpoint accuracy. He beats any type of press, is comfortable on either foot and is as comfortable with the ball at his feet as he is running out with it defensively.
‘Also, the aggressiveness. He is willing to get forward, that youth, that fearlessness. He has quick enough feet for someone of his size. Everything about him for me has been so positive.’
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