Mateo Kovacic: ‘Now is a good time for Josko Gvardiol to join Manchester City’

Manchester City midfielder Mateo Kovacic believes the summer transfer window is a “good time” for Croatian compatriot Josko Gvardiol to move to the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City midfielder Mateo Kovacic believes the summer transfer window is a “good time” for Croatian compatriot Josko Gvardiol to move to the Etihad Stadium.

The Citizens have been strongly linked with a big-money move for the RB Leipzig defender throughout this summer, with Pep Guardiola understood to have identified the 21-year-old as his primary target.

Reports earlier this month claimed that Man City had reached an agreement to sign Gvardiol and the defender had completed the first part of his medical.

However, Leipzig boss Marco Rose and sporting director Max Eberl have played down suggestions that an agreement has been reached and both clubs remain in negotiations, with the Bundesliga club alleged to have set a deadline of August 12 for the Citizens to agree a fee.

It is thought that Man City will be required to meet Leipzig’s €100m (£85.9m) valuation of Gvardiol, which would make the Croatia international the most expensive defender of all time.

Croatia's Mateo Kovacic in action on June 18, 2023© Reuters

Despite recent reports claiming that Liverpool are planning to hijack City’s attempts to sign Gvardiol, the treble winners remain optimistic that they can finalise a deal for the defender this summer.

Gvardiol is a 21-cap Croatia international and he played alongside City’s new summer signing Kovacic – a £25m arrival from Chelsea – at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, helping the Checkered Ones win the third-place playoff against Morocco.

Kovacic, who is a close friend of Gvardiol, believes the highly-rated defender is “ready” to make the next step in his career and hopes he can secure a move to the Etihad.

“Of course I’d like [Gvardiol] to join,” the midfielder told reporters as quoted by The Express. “I know he’s very young and has great potential. He can come here and learn and be the best version of himself, like he wants to be for sure.

“It’s not for me to comment if it’s going to happen or not. I’d obviously like it – I’m good friends with him and he’s Croatian. It would be nice to have a Croatian by my side here.

“Josko is still young but he’s very mature for his age. He doesn’t need too much advice. He’s already played a lot of big games and I think he’s ready for this step.

RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol on March 14, 2023© Reuters

“He had a great World Cup and a great season with RB Leipzig, so it would be nice for him to join such a big club and try to improve even more. I think it’s a good time (to join Man City).

“[Man City] are on a great run, a very confident team and a team you can learn from – and they have possibly the best manager in history. I came here to join a great group and to try to learn – and so can he.”

Gvardiol is widely regarded as one of the brightest prospects in world football and has come on leaps and bounds in recent years with both Leipzig and Croatia.

The left-footed defender, who can operate at both centre-back and left-back, has played 87 times in all competitions for Leipzig since joining the club from Dinamo Zagreb in 2020, and has won successive DFB-Pokals across the last two seasons.

Although Gvardiol has made it clear that he wants to join Man City this summer, Leipzig are under no financial pressure to sell the defender, who still has four years left on his contract, after the German club received £60.2m from the sale of Dominik Szoboszlai to Liverpool in June.

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