Champions League winners Manchester City could be on the verge of wrapping up their first major transfer of the season. On Sunday, German magazine Kicker reported that Man City has agreed to personal terms with RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol. According to the report, Leipzig will expect a first official offer by the club coached by Pep Guardiola next week.
But a transfer is not straightforward. Gvardiol at the moment does not have an exit clause in his contract that will expire in 2027. Furthermore, to release the player, Leipzig is expected to ask for significantly above the €75 million ($82.5 million) Transfermarkt market evaluation of the player. In fact, Gvardiol would become just the 15th player with an eighth-digit transfer fee.
In fact, expectations in Germany have been that Leipzig will ask for at least €100 million ($110 million) for any club wanting to sign the player. Furthermore, even though Gvardiol has always been open about a move to England, the player camp’s plan was to stay in Germany for one more season.
City, in the meantime, wants to wrap this deal up as quickly as possible. Gvardiol, after all, has an exit clause that becomes active in the summer of 2024 and is reportedly worth €110 million ($121 million). That exit clause might also mean that Leipzig will wait one more season to cash in on the defender.
In fact, RB Leipzig’s sporting director Max Eberl quickly shut down the possibility of a Gvardiol transfer this winter or next summer in an interview with the Austrian station Servus TV. “All emails have gone straight to the spam folder,“ Eberl said in the television interview. “Gvardiol, offer, straight to spam. Hence, I have not received anything.”
That, of course, could quickly change next week. Plus, the Guardiola impact and Man City’s stranglehold over the Premier
Eberl’s statements also came at a time when Chelsea was interested. The club’s tumultuous times under owner Todd Boehly, however, means that a move there would have been likely less attractive for the 21-year-old Croatian center-back.
But why does Man City want to make Gvardiol the most expensive defender in history? The center-back has been one of the best players in the Bundesliga last season and was voted in the Gegenpressing Podcast team of the season.
According to Wyscout, Gvardiol was 26th in the Bundesliga with 69.85% won defensive duels. Gvardiol also led the league with 6.67 ball progressions per 90 minutes last season. The left-footed defender also led the league with ball progressions by passes with 509.45.
The Croatian, therefore, combines several key assets that Guardiola values in a defender. Young with significant upside, Gvardiol is defensively sound but can also aid his side in the buildup. Hence, Man City would add a significant piece to what already appears to be a very much perfect side.
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth