RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol could be at the centre of a furious bidding war between Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and top European clubs this summer, say reports.
The centre-back has impressed in the Champions League for the Bundesliga club and had a standout World Cup with Croatia, helping his country reach the semi-finals.
According to The Athletic (opens in new tab), suitors will line up at the end of the season to try and secure the signature of the 21-year-old, whose £97 million release clause doesn’t become active until the summer of 2024.
Chelsea made a move for Gvardiol last summer but couldn’t agree a fee with Leipzig.
One thing the Blues have to their advantage is a good relationship with the German club, who they have previously dealt with for Timo Werner and Christopher Nkunku – who joins at the end of the season.
However, the Stamford Bridge hierarchy are prioritising a new goalkeeper, midfielder and striker.
City, who Gvardiol scored against in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and will face again on Tuesday evening (opens in new tab), are also in the running.
Pep Guardiola is a fan of the Croatian, but, like Chelsea, the Etihad club’s focus isn’t on strengthening the defence as they already have a healthy stock of centre-backs.
Liverpool’s recruitment team have looked at Gvardiol too, but the Reds’ primary concern is sealing a deal for Jude Bellingham of Borussia Dortmund and the cost of that signing could stop them from pursuing a deal for the Leipzig man.
Elsewhere, Real Madrid are in the frame, having met the youngster’s representatives after the World Cup, but the Spaniards could be priced out of a move if Premier League sides get involved.
The same can be said for Juventus, who want a new centre-back but might not have the budget required to tempt Leipzig to sell.
Gvardiol’s deal in Germany runs to 2027 and he may end up staying put.
The 19-time Croatia international is valued at €75m by Transfermarkt (opens in new tab)and has already made 76 appearances for Leipzig – including 11 in the Champions League - despite only turning 21 in January.
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Josko Gvardiol is a top target, with Mason Mount on the wishlist, too. Seven other Players are in the summer plans, with an eye on the future as well. A player dubbed "the next Luka Modric" could be targeted, while Benfica's latest starlet Florentino Luis is being considered. 15-year-old Kendry Paez is also being linked.
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, is rumoured to be in the running for the Paris Saint-Germain management job.