A Chelsea target who can reportedly be signed for a fraction of his true value has set pulses racing with his latest comments, and Tottenham’s powerplay is now seemingly destined to fail.
The most expensive transfer of all time for a defender remains Harry Maguire’s move from Leicester to Man Utd. Maguire – who was recently the subject of a bizarre speech in a Ghanaian Parliamentary meeting – cost £80m back in 2019.
Chelsea twice came close to matching or even surpassing that mark last summer. Leicester were again involved when holding out for a new world record for a defender regarding Wesley Fofana.
The young Frenchman ultimately signed for an initial £70m, while the Blues also bid £77.4m for RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, per the Guardian.
Leipzig declined in the hopes of getting one more season out of the Croatian sensation. It now appears one extra season is all they’ll get.
Gvardiol is primed for a move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs in 2023. He’s been heavily linked with a switch to the Premier League and more specifically, to London.
Chelsea retain strong interest in the centre-back who’s shining at the World Cup. His masterful display on Thursday helped blunt Belgium and secured safe passage for Croatia into the knockout rounds.
However, Tottenham too have been linked. Indeed, TuttoMercatoWeb reported Antonio Conte is keen and has instructed Ivan Perisic to give his fellow Croatian a nudge while in Qatar.
Spurs are in the market for a new left-sided centre-half in 2023. They aimed high last summer when exploring a move for Alessandro Bastoni of Inter Milan. Ultimately, they kept their powder relatively dry upon signing Clement Lenglet on loan.
But per the Athletic and Gvardiol himself, a move to Chelsea and not Tottenham looks most likely.
Gvardiol opens door to Chelsea transfer
Speaking to the Athletic following his manful display against Belgium, the impressive 20-year-old addressed the Chelsea speculation.
He said: “About me and Chelsea? I don’t know. You know what happened in the last few months. To be honest, I have no idea.
“My agent is taking care of this and we will see Right now, I’m happy in Leipzig. I don’t know, we will see – you never know.
“You know the stories and these things, but all I can say is that I’m happy in Leipzig and right now I’m going to stay there and perform for them.”
Gvardiol eventually opened up after further probing, however, and labelled Chelsea a “big club” in the process.
He also left the door ajar with a teasing comment, and highlighted the presence of Chelsea’s own secret weapon, Mateo Kovacic, as something that could lure him to west London.
Gvardiol continued: “It’s a big club of course and, who knows, maybe one day I will be there.
“It’s really nice to see things like this, especially because there is Kovacic, so you never know. I talk with him.
“Even to be here on this, the biggest event, it’s a big thing for me at 20 years old so I’m happy. I have to think about it.”
Gvardiol release clause beggars belief
Leipzig rejected a £77.4m bid from Chelsea last summer, though per multiple outlets including the Telegraph, Gvardiol can be signed for €50m (approx. £44m) in 2023.
That’s the figure at which his release clause is reportedly set at and the clause can be activated starting from next summer.
With the player’s latest comments pointing towards Chelsea, the Blues may wind up signing one of the world’s best centre-halves for the next decade for far less than they initially hoped.