Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Man City make record offer for Guardiola’s ‘absolute dream player’ who could be replaced by relegated Prem star

Pep Guardiola of Manchester City

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

Manchester City have raised their offer to RB Leipzig for Josko Gvardiol, who would become the most expensive defender in history if the bid is accepted.

That’s according to Sky Sports Deutschland, which has named Gvardiol as the ‘absolute dream player’ that Pep Guardiola wants to sign as the treble-winning manager aims to reinvest in his defence.

Man City might lose Aymeric Laporte this summer after he fell down Guardiola’s pecking order. Therefore, Gvardiol has been identified as an ideal like-for-like replacement as a left-footed centre-back.

RB Leipzig value Gvardiol highly, though, and have been referring to the value of his €110m (£94m) release clause – even though that is technically only applicable from 2024.

Therefore, Man City haven’t succeeded in convincing RB Leipzig to sell the Croatia international yet. However, there has been significant progress when agreeing personal terms with the defender.

Now ready to test the resolve of his current employers again, the German version of Sky has revealed that City have put an initial fee of €90m (£77m) on the table.

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Bonuses would increase the cost further in an attempt to convince RB Leipzig. But even at that base fee, Gvardiol would become the most expensive defender ever – surpassing Man Utd’s Harry Maguire.

Still only 21 years old, it would be an emphatic symbol of how well the former Dinamo Zagreb starlet has progressed and how valuable he has become to RB Leipzig.

In total, Gvardiol has made 87 appearances for the Bundesliga club, including 41 across all competitions in the season just gone, which culminated in the club winning the DFB-Pokal for the second consecutive year.

Southampton defender on shortlist to replace Gvardiol

If Marco Rose’s side sell Gvardiol, they would have to find an adequate replacement. Interestingly, one of their potential solutions involves a player who was relegated from the Premier League this season.

Although RB Leipzig’s main focus is on Lyon’s Castello Lukeba, they have also placed Southampton’s Armel Bella-Kotchap on their shortlist.

Bella-Kotchap joined Southampton just last summer from VfL Bochum. The Germany international could make a quick return to the Bundesliga, though, if RB Leipzig firm up their interest.

One issue may be that he is actually right-footed, so wouldn’t be a like-for-like replacement for Gvardiol. Lukeba is left-footed, in contrast.

Also on their shortlist are Wolfsburg’s Micky van de Ven (who is left-footed and has recently been linked with Liverpool and Tottenham) and Lens’ Kevin Danso (who is right-footed). As things stand, the priority is Lukeba, for whom talks are ongoing with Lyon over a transfer that could be agreed at around €30m (£25.7m).