Josko Gvardiol has opened up on Chelsea’s pursuit of his signature, seemingly offering renewed hope that a deal could yet come to fruition.
The RB Leipzig centre-back has established a reputation as one of European football’s most sought-after defenders following an excellent World Cup with Croatia, who reached the semi-finals before sealing the bronze medal in Qatar with the help of a goal from the masked Gvardiol in the third-place play-off win over Morocco.
Such consistently strong performances - Lionel Messi nightmare against Argentina in the last four aside - only served to further greatly embellish the fast-rising reputation of the accomplished 20-year-old, who had long been on the radar of the continent’s leading clubs.
Chelsea are known to be long-term admirers of Gvardiol, with Manchester City and Tottenham also heavily linked along with the likes of Real Madrid.
However, a move did not end up materialising as expected in the last transfer window, with the Blues since having agreed a deal to take his Leipzig team-mate Christopher Nkunku - currently the Bundesliga’s top scorer - to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
They also signed defender Wesley Fofana in a £75million deal with Leicester last summer before recently adding another centre-back with the £33m arrival of Benoit Badiashile from Monaco.
But Gvardiol - said to be valued at a whopping £110m by Leipzig - does not appear to have closed the door on his own potential switch to Chelsea, having seemingly been given assurances over a mid-season exit from Leipzig despite only signing a new contract lasting until 2027 back in September.
“They [Chelsea] did not give up, but it was agreed that we would go for the winter,” he told RTL Danas in Croatia. “Winter has come, so we need to see what and how to proceed, but it’s okay, there’s still plenty of time, we’ll see.”
He added: “I’m not in a hurry. I’m in Leipzig, we still have six months to finish the season properly and to win something. And then we will look further to the future.”
Not much has been mentioned by way of potential Liverpool interest in Gvardiol, with Jurgen Klopp currently being implored to instigate an overdue strengthening of his midfield options after completing the early £44m signing of wide forward Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven.
However, Virgil van Dijk is now believed to be facing more than a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and Gvardiol has named the Reds as his dream club.
“Since I was little, I watched a lot of Liverpool matches with my dad, and we covered every season in detail. It is a club that has remained in my heart,” he said.