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Liverpool: Can Gvardiol become the new Pique?

Liverpool have been handed a welcome boost to bolster their interest in RB Leipzig’s centre-back sensation Josko Gvardiol, who recently made an interesting admission regarding his thoughts on a transfer away from the Bundesliga.

What’s the word?

The 20-year-old Gvardiol has recently emerged as one of the most coveted stars in world football, having captivated fans for his defensive brilliance at the 2022 World Cup with Croatia, clinching third place

Many high-profile suitors have expressed an interest, with one transfer insider stating last month that the Reds are the club with the greatest interest in the colossus, despite attention from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

And recently, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp and co have been gifted with melodious words to their ears, with Fabrizio Romano replaying news from RTL Danas of Gvardiol’s admission.

The defender said: “My dream club? That would definitely be Liverpool. Since I was little, I watched a lot of their matches with my dad.

“We covered every season in detail. It is a club that has remained in my heart”.

Klopp’s own Pique

Football is not a game that runs solely on sentiment, with affluence and appeal from a footballing standpoint ultimately the factors that will sway the reckoning when it comes to movement on the transfer front.

Luckily, Liverpool boast a world-class manager and a world-class crop of players, and despite the club’s struggles this season, there is an unequivocal appeal to join a club that has one virtually every major honour available since Klopp assumed the managerial role in 2015. 

Gvardiol signed for Leipzig in 2020 from Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb as an 18-year-old prospect, making 65 appearances and cementing his position as one of the first names on the team sheet, despite his tender years.

Should Liverpool sign Gvardiol?

Definitely!

Definitely!

No way!

No way!

And at the recent World Cup, he glistened for his nation, standing strong and tall as one of the brightest defenders to grace the pitch across the entirety of the competition.

As per Sofascore, the “Haaland of defenders”, as once lauded by scout Jacek Kulig, recorded an impressive average rating of 7.14 in Qatar, starting all seven matches Croatia played and demonstrating his ball-playing aptitude by maintaining a 90% passing accuracy and scoring one headed goal, in the third place play-off.

And his defensive acumen was also on full show; keeping two clean sheets, making 1.6 tackles and a remarkable 5.3 clearances per outing, his calibre was on full show, also only making 1.1 fouls each match.

Should he sign for Liverpool, Anfield could boast its very own Gerard Pique, with the FC Barcelona legend’s imposing presence and refined skill set offering parallels with the burgeoning Gvardiol’s own abilities.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Let's start easy - how many points did Liverpool collect in their 2021/22 Premier League campaign?

As per FBref, Pique is the second most comparable player to the 19-cap Croatian, who ranks within the top 5% of centre-backs for progressive passes and 1% for completed dribbles over the past year, also in the top 14% for rate of shot-creating actions.

With the distinguished Spaniard a centrepiece at the heart of the defence for a Barcelona side that dominated silverware and boasted one of the greatest pass-centred sides of the 21st century, Gvardiol is in good company to receive such comparisons.

The “Rolls-Royce” – as hailed by Zach Lowy – has been touted at some pretty lucrative fees, with one report claiming suitors will have to pay as much as €120m (£105m).

Though, as a boyhood fan of the club, a monumental swoop might just bear fruit.