Man City transfers: Chelsea raid phase one of Guardiola masterplan with teammate signing the real prize

Mateo Kovacic, Reece James, Chelsea, September 2022

If Mateo Kovacic makes a move from Chelsea to Manchester City, he could quickly be followed by one of his teammates, according to reports.

Approaching the final year of his contract at Chelsea, Kovacic has become a top target for Man City recently. Permission has been granted for the Premier League champions to speak to the 29-year-old. Therefore, a move to the Etihad Stadium now looks likely for him.

In theory, Kovacic could take the place of Ilkay Gundogan in the Man City squad if the club captain leaves at the end of his own contract this summer.

Even if Gundogan stays, Kovacic will be an exciting signing for Pep Guardiola to work with. But a report from Football Transfers has indicated that the Croatia international might just be being used ‘bait’ for a second signing City want even more.

Indeed, it is claimed that the addition of Kovacic to Guardiola’s squad could pave the way for City to sign his Croatian compatriot, Josko Gvardiol.

Identified by City as an ideal replacement for Aymeric Laporte, who now looks likely to be sold this summer after a decrease in gametime, Gvardiol’s stance on his RB Leipzig future sounds encouraging.

According to a separate and slightly more recent report by The Times, City are ready to intensify their interest in signing Gvardiol, since the defender is preparing to tell Leipzig that he wants them to consider offers for him this summer.

Aware of City’s increasing interest, Gvardiol would be open to leaving Leipzig after two full seasons in their first team.

Per the report, the German Cup finalists will be holding out for a transfer fee of around £87m before selling Gvardiol. But they are now giving more thought to cashing in on him after tying Dani Olmo down to a new contract.

Had Olmo not signed a new deal, the winger would have been one of Leipzig’s likely sales this summer. Now, they will have to identify other players they could raise money by offloading.

Gvardiol, a left-footed centre-half who can also play at full-back, has established himself as one of their most valuable assets. He has been heavily linked with Man City after impressing in Germany since leaving Dinamo Zagreb in 2021.

Man City plan for Kovacic to help Gvardiol

And according to Football Transfers, City believe that having Kovacic in their squad would help Gvardiol settle and adapt.

Already familiar with each other from their duties with the Croatia national team, Kovacic’s seniority could make him a helpful guide for Gvardiol.

There might be pressure on the 21-year-old if he comes to City for a big fee. Several players have taken time to adapt to Guardiola’s demands in Manchester, so Gvardiol might need a bit of extra help to make his transition into the Premier League with City as smooth as possible.

Coincidentally, there have also been suggestions that Kovacic’s current employers at Chelsea would equally be keen on a deal for Gvardiol.

But if they were to move for the defender, it now looks like they wouldn’t be able to mimic City’s plan of having him in the same squad as Kovacic. For the midfielder, a move to the north west with City now looks more likely to go through than not.

Unlike Chelsea, City have European football on offer next season. They will once again be in the Champions League, a competition they have reached the final of this term.

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