Leeds United are now stepping up their chase to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol in the summer transfer window.
According to reports, Jesse Marsch’s side have tracked the Croatia international for two years now, and they initially came close to signing him back in the summer of 2020.
It is now suggested that Victor Orta and his recruitment team have continued to keep tabs on the defender and are finally ready to make their move.
However, while Leeds scouts have been present at some of his recent matches, they are likely to face competition from other Premier League clubs for his signature too.
In an analytics-based profile done on the 20-year-old by The Athletic, they noted: “When it comes to defending, Gvardiol looks to be well-trained in the aggressive Leipzig way. He is always active in getting tight to his man (defending intensity 99 out of 99). He is also above average in his frequency of ball recoveries and interceptions (79 out of 99), highlighting how much he likes to step out and read the play.”
Meanwhile, in a piece for BBC Sport earlier last month, journalist Izak Ante Sucic claimed that the defender is “built like a tank” and that those in his homeland liken him to Liverpool powerhouse Virgil van Dijk.
He said: “In Croatia we like to compare him to Virgil van Dijk, because he’s built that way (6 foot 1). He’s one of his role models in football and he’s also mentioned Thiago Silva and Sergio Ramos – Ramos because he’s also one of those players who likes to score as many goals as he can.
“In my opinion, I think he can be as good as Virgil one day. When you see how he behaves on the field and off the field, he’s one of those guys where you’d say ‘he’s going to succeed’.”
The Van Dijk comparisons certainly paint a picture of just how highly-rated Gvardiol is, and given the Whites’ defensive troubles this season – they have conceded 68 goals in the Premier League, the most of any team – he could come in and have a huge impact.
Also, with his ability to play at both centre-back and left-back, the young Croatian offers a versatility which would be invaluable to Marsch, given both the club’s tragic injury record and the unconvincing performances of summer signing Junior Firpo.
It’s a move which would certainly have the Leeds manager delighted.