David Adán


The Croat has shone in Qatar and is being linked with Real Madrid


The World Cup is the ideal shop window for players who aren't yet universally known to make a name for  themselves on the global stage.

Croatia's Josko Gvardiol is a prime example. The leader of the Croat backline, he’s been one of the stand-out central defenders in Qatar.

Gvardiol is only 20, but his displays have shown he has an old head on young shoulders. He’s had a key role in Croatia’s run to the quarter-finals.

According to Transfermarkt, his market value is €60m. Chelsea were close to bidding €90m in the summer, but in the end opted for Wesley Fofana.

Exactly a year ago, Gvardiol was  worth €25m. Though chiefly a  central defender, he can also operate  at full-back if needed.

“As far as a move in summer 2023 is concerned, we’re in no hurry and  there are no deals in place with any club,” his agent has said.

The 6ft 1in defender made his  Croatia debut in 2021, and has  been a fixture ever since. He has  16 caps and one goal.

Gvardiol has played 65 times for current club RB Leipzig. Booked once every eight games, he avoids unnecessary risks and is a good tackler.

“Real Madrid are the greatest club in the world, so who knows… maybe  one day I could play there,”  Gvardiol said in an interview.

“I’d like that. Modric doesn’t need to  tell me anything about Madrid. I know what a top club they are and what a big deal it is to be linked to them.”

Gvardiol doesn’t have a release clause at Leipzig - a key factor in  negotiations over a transfer. Were he to cost €60m, he’d be a bargain.

Madrid have Militao (24), Rüdiger (29) and Alaba (30). Were they to sign Gvardiol, they’d be getting a player for the next decade. He’d be a great buy.