Friday, September 29, 2023

I almost quit football to sell fish, then Chelsea wanted me and I’m now on verge of being world’s most expensive defender

RB Leipzig star Josko Gvardiol had an important decision to make during his teenage years. The talented Croatia defender was growing frustrated with the lack of opportunities in the Dinamo Zagreb youth team. He found himself at a crossroads, unsure of his future in football.

Gvardiol’s father worked as a fish monger, and the young center-back often helped him at the market. At one point, he seriously considered giving up on football and embracing a lifetime of early mornings and fish-selling in Zagreb.

But fate had other plans for Gvardiol. Less than five years later, he is on the verge of joining Manchester City, the reigning champions of Europe. The transfer fee is reported to be around £77 million, potentially making him the most expensive defender in football history. With add-ons, the deal could surpass the record set by Harry Maguire’s transfer to Manchester United in 2019.

Gvardiol’s decision to stick with football has certainly paid off. In an interview with The Times, he revealed that he was frustrated and contemplating leaving the sport when he was 16 or 17. However, he persevered, and his talent was eventually recognized. He quickly progressed from the youth teams to Dinamo Zagreb’s first team, where he played alongside his current RB Leipzig teammate, Dani Olmo.

After just one season with Dinamo Zagreb, Gvardiol caught the attention of RB Leipzig, who signed him ahead of Leeds United, who had just been promoted to the Premier League. While Leeds and other Premier League clubs had shown interest in him, Gvardiol knew he needed to take a few more steps before achieving his goal of playing in the Premier League.

Gvardiol’s rise to fame continued at the 2022 World Cup, where he impressed for Croatia, helping them reach the semi-finals. Despite being outplayed by Lionel Messi in a match against Argentina, Gvardiol’s reputation continued to grow.

In January, Chelsea made a £70 million bid for Gvardiol, but Leipzig refused to sell. Although he struggled with the decision, Gvardiol ultimately stayed with Leipzig. Looking back, it seems avoiding Chelsea was a fortunate move for him.

Now, Gvardiol is set to embark on a new chapter in his career with Manchester City. His journey from considering a life in the fish market to becoming one of the most sought-after defenders in the world is a testament to his talent and determination.

In conclusion, Josko Gvardiol’s story is a reminder that sometimes, the most life-changing decisions come from unexpected moments of doubt and uncertainty.
It was only two years ago that Turkish defender, Merih Demiral, was ready to hang up his boots and take a job selling fish – but the 23-year-old is now on the brink of becoming the world’s most expensive defender.

Demiral played for Turkish sides Alanyaspor and Fenerbahce before a move to one of world football’s biggest clubs, Serie A giants Juventus, in January 2019. After just 18 months in Turin, and 13 appearances, Demiral has seen his stock rise dramatically and is poised to become the most expensive defenceman in history following interest from several Premier League clubs.

It was at Alayaspor in his hometown of Antalya where Demiral began his journey, making his professional debut in 2015 at the age of 18. Two seasons later, Fenerbahce moved in to snap up the centre-back, and it was during this time that Demiral almost gave up on his dreams of becoming a footballer.

Struggling for playing time, Demiral thought about quitting football altogether and taking up a job selling fish at the local market in Antalya. Fortunately, he stayed on and the Turkish international’s fortune has been turned around.

Demiral was called up to the Turkish squad and made a handful of impressive performances, eventually earning a move to Juventus in 2019. His performances over the course of the 18 months at Juve earned Demiral a nomination for the Serie A Young Player of the Season award.

Now Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester United are jostling for the signature of Demiral. It is reported that the former could make the 23-year-old the world’s most expensive defender with a fee of £60 million.

Demiral has gone from fishmonger to potential world record transfer in the blink of an eye and his story is surely one to admire.

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