Josko Gvardiol, the highly-rated Croatian defender, has officially joined Manchester City in the Premier League. The club confirmed the signing, with Gvardiol signing a five-year contract after his £77 million move from RB Leipzig.
Gvardiol, who is only 21 years old, was Pep Guardiola’s top target for the summer transfer window. The young defender has earned a reputation as one of the most promising talents in world football. Interestingly, Gvardiol shares a nickname with Guardiola, as he is often referred to as ‘Pep’ or ‘Little Pep’ by his teammates due to the similarity in their surnames.
Fans may have first noticed Gvardiol during his impressive performances for Croatia at the 2022 World Cup, where he showcased his exceptional abilities to a global audience. His national team manager, Zlatko Dalic, praised him throughout the tournament, declaring him the best center-back in the world. Dalic was particularly impressed by Gvardiol’s maturity and elegance on the pitch, as well as his ability to carry the ball.
Standing at 6’1″, Gvardiol combines strength with confidence on the ball, making him a formidable presence in defense. He has drawn comparisons to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, whom he considers his role model. Gvardiol also admires Lionel Messi and credits the Argentine superstar for inspiring his playing style.
Despite his admiration for van Dijk and Messi, Gvardiol’s bedroom wall features three shirts that hold special meaning to him. Surprisingly, one of them belongs to Ryan Bertrand, the former Chelsea, Southampton, and Leicester defender. Gvardiol received the signed shirt from Bertrand’s agent, who initially wanted to sign him but ultimately decided against it. The agent sent the shirt as an apology, a decision he may now regret considering Gvardiol’s record-breaking move to the Premier League.
With his move to Manchester City, Gvardiol joins forces with Guardiola, widely regarded as one of the best managers in the world. This signing adds another exceptional young talent to City’s treble-winning squad, further strengthening their chances of success in the upcoming season.
Josko Gvardiol is quickly being recognised as one of the best young talents in world football, and his already stellar reputation has only been enhanced by his selection in the 2020 UEFA Men’s Team of the Year and his €30 million transfer to Premier League side, RB Leipzig. He has been nicknamed ‘Pep Gvardiol’, making reference to legendary coach Pep Guardiola, whose philosophies he has adopted.
Gvardiol is an incredibly versatile defender, capable of playing anywhere across the back line, but is particularly noted for his ability on the ball, the product of not only his technical skill but also his understanding of the game. Last season, he completed 85% of his passes and made 40 ball recoveries, 13 interceptions and zero defensive errors.
It is clear that he has been heavily inspired by the likes of Guardiola and fellow countryman and current Real Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane. In a recent interview, Gvardiol admitted that as he was growing up, he always looked up to four-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona great, Lionel Messi. He even has a signed Ryan Bertrand shirt pinned to his wall.
Interestingly, Gvardiol was not expected to be chosen in the 2020 UEFA Team of the Year. However, an incredible number of votes proved that the footballing public is not the only one to have noticed his remarkable rise. And while his playing style may be influenced by his idols, Gvardiol has proven that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to success.
As Gvardiol begins his journey at RB Leipzig, it will be exciting to see if he can live up to his ‘world’s best’ tag and continue to build on his already impressive career.