With the 20-year-old phenom successfully taking the headlines after a captivating start to the campaign with RB Leipzig, starring despite his tender age, he has transferred his feats to the international stage and played an integral role for Croatia, who have reached the quarter-finals of the tournament for the second successive time.
Sky Sports Germany reporter Florian Plettenberg recently took to Twitter to report on the prospective transfer of the Leipzig ace.
“We’ve been told: NO release clause in his contract until 2027. But lots of top clubs informed about him for 2023. #CFC, #MUFC, Real and Barcelona highly involved. For Tuchel he was the main target. Boehly also focused on him. NO contact with Bayern,” he said.
Despite the intense interest in his signature, United boss Erik ten Hag will be confident of enticing Gvardiol with his proposal, with Old Trafford still one of the most prominent homes in world football.
With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar the birth-ground to several stars, Gvardiol might just be the cream of the crop, with his aggressive tackling and ball-playing ability an embodiment of the modern centre-back at the top of the game.
He would not come cheap, but Manchester United have been known to splash out on defenders in recent years, notably signing Harry Maguire for a fee of £80m – a world record deal for a defender.
With the Theatre of Dreams looking to return to former glory, Gvardiol could be the presence at the bedrock of the pitch to cement status as a top-four team, and aid the club in the pursuit of major honours once again after going over five years without a single trophy.
In Qatar, as per Sofascore, Gvardiol has recorded an average rating of 7.28 – not dropping below 7.0 throughout the tournament – and has been an assured colossus at the park with a maturity that belies his age.
And FBref points out some of the best defensive statistics in the business from the young ace, ranking him within the top 1% for passes attempted and dribbles completed, and the top 5% for progressive passes.
It is this forward-thinking approach that will aid United greatly, providing a creative stalwart from the very back, while also maintaining the aggressive nature that can differentiate good centre-backs from the great.
Playing on the left side of the central defence, the position that Maguire has occupied at Manchester United, the “sensational” Gvardiol could be a breath of fresh air into the team, a new star on the biggest stage that can continue his burgeoning rise under the mould of Ten Hag’s clay.
He might have only cast his teenage years aside earlier this year, but Gvardiol has been an impeccable defender for club and country, and with some of Europe’s top outfits circling like sharks, the Red Devils manager must move with swift precision.