Premier League • England

Klopp told elite £98m-rated star wants to join Liverpool as Fabrizio Romano paves way for blockbuster deal

Josko Gvardiol of RB Leipzig during Europa League clash v Rangers at Ibrox

Josko Gvardiol pictured before Europa League game

Liverpool have been given a serious leg up in the chase for a world-class defensive star this summer after being informed the player has his eyes on a move to Anfield.

The Reds are facing a summer of major rebuilding after falling way below Jurgen Klopp’s usual high standards. Indeed, a 5-2 home hammering by Real Madrid in the Champions League leaves them on the cusp of finishing the season without a trophy. An urgent response will be required by the Reds in the wake of that beating.

Truth be told, the Liverpool squad needs major surgery this summer. And amid mounting claims that Klopp’s job could be in some jeopardy, Danny Murphy has named five of six players Liverpool need to move on.

To that end, Liverpool will likely make major changes to their midfield this summer. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and James Milner all look likely to move on.

And the Reds’ interest in signing Jude Bellingham is certainly well documented.

However, it seems Liverpool’s defensive unit also needs surgery as well. Both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez have struggled this season, while even Virgil van Dijk has been below his best since returning from the World Cup.

To that end, the Reds are among a plethora of clubs all reportedly keen on Josko Gvardiol.

The 21-year-old is already regarded as one of the best defenders in the world. He proved what he is about by limiting the effectiveness of Manchester City dangerman Erling Haaland on Wednesday evening.

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Fabrizio Romano paves way for Liverpool move for Josko Gvardiol

Having signed for RB Leipzig in summer 2020, he has already been rewarded with a new deal for the Bundesliga side.

And his new agreement reportedly contains an exit clause which is set at a whopping £98m.

However, according to Sky Sports, that does not become active until summer 2024.

As a result, a clutch of clubs, including Liverpool will look to pounce this summer and sign the player for far less.

Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are also among his suitors.

However, it seems the Merseysiders may have a major advantage with the player previously admitting a fondness for Liverpool.

“Since I was a little boy, my dad and I watched Liverpool matches, and I grew up with only them,” Gvardiol previously told Croatian news outlet 24Sata.

“When I took football more seriously, I started following them. And I definitely want the Premier League and Liverpool.”

Now those prospects appear to have taken another major leap forward thanks to Fabrizio Romano.

Speaking to his YouTube channel, Romano insists Liverpool are very much in the mix for his signature.

“Keep an eye also on Josko Gvardiol because many top clubs are monitoring him,” he said.

“Chelsea wanted him last summer, also Manchester City and Liverpool are monitoring the player. There’s a lot of interest, but nothing will be decided in February, March. It’s going to take time.”

Gvardiol will likely set new record fee for a defender

Whichever club does land Gvardiol this summer will likely have to shatter the world-record fee for a defender.

That currently stands at the £80m that Manchester United paid Leicester for Harry Maguire. Van Dijk, at £75m, is just behind.

However, Die Roten Bullen are tough negotiators and will only allow their star man to leave for a serious fee.

As a result, Romano reckons any switch for Gvardiol will likely see a side set a new world-record fee for a defender.

“We know that Leipzig want to make Gvardiol the most expensive centre-back ever,” he said. “This is a crucial point in the story.

“Many clubs are keeping an eye on him. Liverpool have also sent their scouts to follow the player multiple times in the last months. So, keep an eye on this situation.”

Gvardiol was on the scoresheet on Wednesday as Leipzig secured a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Man City in the Champions League.

And the Croatian, who once rejected a move to Leeds, will look to impress in the second leg at the Etihad next month.

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