Manchester United are ‘highly involved’ in the race to sign Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol, according to Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg.
The 20-year-old has been one of the standout performers at this winter’s World Cup in Qatar and his already burgeoning stock has risen once more.
The Red Bull Leipzig centre-back produced arguably the tackle of the tournament so far to stop Romelu Lukaku from scoring for Belgium, which would have resulted in Vatreni crashing out of the competition.
After beating Japan on penalties yesterday in the round of 16, Zlatko Dalic’s side face Brazil, who are arguably the tournament’s favourites in the quarter-finals.
After being instrumental in Croatia’s run to the last-eight, the left-footed Gvardiol is arguably going to have to produce the match of his life to keep the Selecao’s star-studded forward line at bay.
Manchester United ‘highly involved’ in race to sign Croatian star Josko Gvardiol
United’s former interim manager Ralf Rangnick recommended the former Dinamo Zagreb centre-halve to the twenty-time league champions, the Manchester Evening News reported.
But despite The Telegraph reporting back in June that the Red Devils were considering a move, United’s interest went no further.
According to Plettenberg, Erik ten Hag’s side are still in the race to sign the Croatian sensation alongside the likes of Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Like Lisandro Martinez, Gvardiol is also left-footed, but Ten Hag may see the 16-time Croatia international as the perfect long-term partner for United’s number six.
The Guardian reported that the 52-year-old is willing to let club captain Harry Maguire leave at the end of the season, and his departure could pave the way for Gvardiol’s arrival.
Raphael Varane started the season promisingly alongside Martinez, but the Frenchman hasn’t managed to stay fit since moving to the Theatre of Dreams.
One man who has seemingly endorsed United’s pursuit of Gvardiol is Reds legend Rio Ferdinand.
Speaking on BBC prior to Croatia beating Japan yesterday, the former England international said: “I have to say he’s been my favourite defender at the tournament to watch so far.
“He has great presence, he’s happy for the battle, [he’s] physical and has a wand of a left-foot and he has pace as well.
“All those attributes are what you need as a modern-day defender.”
Gvardiol’s contract at the Red Bull Arena doesn’t expire until 2027, but if he shines against Brazil then his valuation will only continue to increase.
Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.