Joško Gvardiol: the young RB Leipzig talent with experience of working with Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch

Leeds United are reportedly stepping up their interest in RB Leipzig defender Joško Gvardiol - but who is he?

By Flora Snelson
Friday, 15th April 2022, 4:12 pm

The 20-year-old is a long-term target of Leeds who have been monitoring his progress for over two years.

The Whites came close to signing him as a teenager ahead of their maiden Premier League campaign in the summer of 2020, but RB Leipzig beat the West Yorkshire side to his signature with the youngster wary of launching himself into the competitive world of England's top flight too soon.

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Instead, Leipzig paid Dinamo Zagreb £18m for the player who immediately returned to the Croatian side to continue his development for the 2020/2021 season.

This term, Gvardiol returned to Germany, where he has become a regular starter in Domenico Tedesco's side. The departure of Dayot Upamecano to Bayern Munich made space in the Leipzig defence, where Gvardiol has racked up more than 2,000 minutes of Bundesliga experience this season, as well as featuring in the Red Bulls' Champions League and Europa League campaigns.

A bright talent from an early age, Gvardiol made his debut for Croatia Under 21s at the age of just 17 before starring for the seniors at 19. The defender was part of the team that Kalvin Phillips helped England to defeat 1-0 in the opening game of Euro 2020. He has played every minute of Croatia's Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign and scored in the Blazers' 3-0 defeat over Cyprus.

It is thought that the centre back, whose contract with Leipzig runs to 2026, is now worth in the region of £27m, so the desire to bring Gvardiol to Elland Road might compel Leeds to fork out a club-record fee after the Whites paid £27m for Rodrigo in 2020.

RB Leipzig defender Joško Gvardiol. Pic: Nico Paetzel.

Jesse Marsch's Red Bull links and experience working with Gvardiol at Leipzig give the Whites a strong hand in the race to land the young talent, who is also being targeted by Arsenal, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Luka Modrić congratulates Joško Gvardiol after the youngster scored for Croatia against Cyprus. Pic: AFP.
Joško Gvardiol battles Hannover 96 in the DFB Cup quarter final. Pic: Oliver Hardt.