Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd ‘highly involved’ in battle for defender who would clash with summer signing, as Todd Boehly obsesses over rival Chelsea deal

Josko Gvardiol and Dani Olmo

Manchester United have joined the race for RB Leipzig defender and Chelsea target Josko Gvardiol, according to a respected reporter.

Gvardiol has been making a name for himself with RB Leipzig since his move from Dinamo Zagreb ahead of the 2021-22 season. He amassed 46 appearances in his first campaign with the German club and has become a fully fledged member of the Croatia national team.

Clubs in England have been aware of Gvardiol’s potential for a long time. Marcelo Bielsa wanted to take him to Leeds United before RB Leipzig were chosen as his most appropriate next step.

Gvardiol’s career route so far seems to have been justified, since a number of more powerful clubs are now keeping him high on their shortlists.

For example, there have been plenty of rumours about a move to Chelsea. TEAMtalk understands the Blues have been tracking him since his time with Dinamo Zagreb and are now planning to put together a bid whereby they would pay in instalments.

And respected reporter Florian Plettenberg has added his weight to the rumours that Chelsea are well “informed” about Gvardiol.

The Sky Sports Germany journalist has included Chelsea in a list of four “top clubs” who are “highly involved” in the battle for his signature.

Indeed, owner Todd Boehly is “focused” on the 20-year-old, who was a top target for previous head coach Thomas Tuchel but has not faded from their radar.

The problem for Chelsea is that they could now miss out on Gvardiol to a Premier League rival. After all, Plettenberg has named Man Utd as contenders for the left footer.

Man Utd aiming to add another left-footed defender

Erik ten Hag already added a left-footed centre-back to his new squad in the summer by bringing Lisandro Martinez with him from Ajax.

Martinez has brought balance next to right footers such as Harry Maguire or Raphael Varane. However, perhaps Man Utd want to invest in another left sider.

The other clubs competing for Gvardiol are La Liga’s El Clasico rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

However, for the time being, Plettenberg has denied contact between Gvardiol and a potential fifth suitor in the shape of Bayern Munich.

It could all be to play for in the battle for Gvardiol’s services. RB Leipzig have him under contract until 2027, but a move could materialise in 2023.

Interestingly, Plettenberg has denied the existence of a release clause in his contract. Therefore, RB Leipzig can hold out for a high sum, which adds an extra layer of complication for his suitors.

Chelsea might make more sense than Man Utd for Josko Gvardiol

If all are willing to pay up, though, which would be the better fit for Gvardiol?

As stated, Man Utd already have Martinez, and it is not as if he is a much older option they will need to move on from.

Indeed, the Argentina international has what it takes to become a long-term solution himself for Ten Hag.

Therefore, unless one of them was to play at left-back, it might be difficult to get Martinez and Gvardiol in the same lineup.

Alternatively, he could move to Chelsea, where all four of the natural centre-backs currently at Graham Potter’s disposal – Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana, Trevoh Chalobah and Thiago Silva – are right footed.

Hence, it might make more sense for Gvardiol to go to Chelsea. What will be important, though, is which of his admirers can qualify for the Champions League.

It is usually a given for Barcelona and Real Madrid to occupy half of the top-four berths in La Liga. Therefore, they need to be taken seriously when it comes to Gvardiol’s future as well.

Real Madrid do have David Alaba as a left-footed centre-back, whereas Barcelona are lacking an option who favours that side.

Once again, then, it would seem Gvardiol’s best option would be Chelsea in the Premier League or Barcelona in La Liga.

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