Chelsea have been handed a huge blоw in their mission to sign RB Leipzig star Josko Gvardiol. The 20-year-old defender was heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in the summer as Todd Boehly looked to bolster the club’s backline.
The Blues hold an interest in Gvardiol, but Leipzig do not want to sell the defender. According to The Telegraph, there’s a £43.6m release clause in the Croatia international’s contract with the German side.
In May, a report from Croatia said that the youngster’s father flew to London to discuss a possible move with former head coach Thomas Tuchel. He was reported eyed as a perfect replacement for Antonio Rudiger, being dubbed the new big left sided center-back – a modern center-half who continues to impress on the left of a back-three for club and country.
Despite Chelsea’s long interest in Gvardiol, the Blues could soon miss out if they don’t react accordingly. Spanish outlet Sport, as quoted by the Express, report that Barcelona are eager to acquire the Croatian’s services as they look to replace the retired legend Gerard Pique.
Chelsea on red alert as Barcelona hijɑck plan to sign ‘next Antonio Rudiger’
But, the Blues could have an advantage amid the commotion. In September, Mateo Kovacic reveɑled the role that he played in Chelsea’s initial swoop for Gvardiol. Speaking to the press ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League group stage opener with Dinamo Zagreb, the Blues midfielder admitted that he’s hopeful of playing with his fellow countryman at club level one day.
“At the club, they asked me about Josko. I told them all the best,” Kovacic said. “I don’t need to say anything about his football. They know what kind of player he is, and his character is excellent. I have seen in the national team how eager he is to play, he has a great career ahead of him, and I hope that one day we will play together in the club.”
Gvardiol is set to play a key role in any success that Croatia enjoy at the World Cup this winter. Chelsea will likely be keeping a close eye on the defender, who has been widely regarded as the club’s top target.
Croatia kick-off the tournament against Hakim Ziyech’s Morocco on November 23 before locking horns with Canada on November 27. Gvardiol and Kovacic will then play Eden hazard’s Belgium in the final group-stage clɑsh on December 1.
Why Brighton were stᴜnned by Chelsea’s Potter approach?
Brighton’s fortunes are closely linked with Chelsea at the moment because the South Coast club have seen their Player of the Year, their manager, several coaches and a key member of their recruitment staff leave to join the Blues in the last few months.
Their CEO Paul Barber has some quotes in Sussex Argus where he admits that he and the club were taken aback by Chelsea’s move to appoint their manager Graham Potter, just as the Seagulls thought they were safe.
“I think they had done their homework. I think if we look back to the summer and we always review what could happen during the season ahead, I think we probably felt that most of the top six clubs were fairly settled with their head coaches and managers for the season,” Barber explained.
“If you look at Liverpool with [Jurgen] Klopp, Man City with [Pep] Guardiola, Arsenal with [Mikel] Arteta, Tottenham with [Antonio] Conte, Chelsea with Tuchel, generally speaking, we felt that there was going to be some consistency.
“Obviously [Erik] Ten Hag was new at Manchester United but when you looked at that landscape, Graham Potter is not going to leave for anyone other than those six clubs if any of them were to come in.
“What we didn’t expect to happen, obviously, was for Chelsea’s new owners to decide Thomas Tuchel wasn’t for them and to sᴜddenly be a gap there.
Tell us about it Paul. Things had certainly gone pretty sour by the time Tuchel was given the boot, but we expected the credit he had in the bank to last him a lot longer than it did.
What we – and Barber – hadn’t taken into account was the new ownership’s desire to get their own man in place. In reality, Tuchel was a deɑd man walking from the moment Boehly arrived.