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Josko Gvardiol: Manchester City Sign Croatia Centre-Back From RB Leipzig

Manchester City have completed the signing of Croatia centre-back Josko Gvardiol on a five-year deal from RB Leipzig for 90m euros (£77m).

He is the second most expensive defender of all time after Harry Maguire, who joined Manchester United for £80m from Leicester City in 2019.

Gvardiol, 21, has impressed in his two seasons at Leipzig after joining from Dinamo Zagreb in July 2021.

“I have always dreamed of one day playing in England,” he said.

“To be doing so now with Manchester City – after the season they have just had – is a real honour for me.”

Gvardiol, who has been capped 21 times by Croatia and helped his side finish third at the 2022 World Cup as well as runners-up to Spain in this year’s Nations League, will wear the number 24 shirt.

“Anyone who saw Manchester City play last season knows they are the best team in the world. To win the Treble says everything you need to know about the quality this team has,” he added.

“To be joining City is something very special for me and my family. To have the chance to work with Pep Guardiola will be amazing. I know I am not yet the finished article and I am sure my game will progress under the best coach in football.

“To be linking up with [Croatia midfielder] Mateo Kovacic will also be special.”

City signed Kovacic from Chelsea for an initial £25m in June.

Gvardiol said he would also be pleased to be playing alongside, rather than facing, City’s prolific striker Erling Haaland.

“Luckily, I’m on his side now and I don’t have to take care of him anymore,” he said.

Josko Gvardiol playing for RB Leipzig against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium in the 2022-23 Champions League
Josko Gvardiol’s RB Leipzig side lost 7-0 against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium in the Champions League last season

Gvardiol won back-to-back titles with Zagreb, signing off with a league and cup double before sealing his move to the Bundesliga.

He helped RB Leipzig win the German Cup in his two seasons with them as well as twice qualifying for the Champions League.

“He is a player we have watched closely, and we feel he has a superb set of attributes. Top clubs all over Europe have been monitoring him, so to bring him here is great news for us,” said City director of football Txiki Begiristain.

“Josko has so many qualities – everything you want in a centre-half. He is fast, competitive, combative, strong in the air, impressive in possession of the ball, strong self-belief and a good character. He is left-footed, too, which offers us good options at the back.”

Gvardiol was in the Leipzig side that reached the Europa League semi-finals in 2021-22, when they eventually lost 3-2 to Rangers.

His Leipzig side finished third in a Champions League group topped by City in 2021-22 and lost 8-1 over two legs to his new club in the competition’s round of 16 last season, including a 7-0 defeat at Etihad Stadium.

“Everyone last season wanted to avoid City as a team,” said Gvardiol.

“We knew it was going to be hard. It’s unbelievable the way they play at home and the atmosphere. Also, the calmness on the ball – it was just a different level.”

Source : BBC