Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Josko Gvardiol admits his Premier League ‘goal’, discusses facing Haaland and his toughest opponent

Josko Gvardiol has revealed that it is his ‘goal’ to play in the Premier League one day.

The 21-year-old has developed into one of the most highly-rated centre-backs in European football over the last couple of years, unsurprisingly making him the subject of plenty of Premier League interest and speculation.

 

The Croatia international joined RB Leipzig back in the summer of 2021 from Dinamo Zagreb, though he could quite conceivably already have been playing Premier League football, revealing that he actually was considering an opportunity to join Leeds at the time, and admitting his desire to play in the English top-flight.

“I had two options, between Leeds and Leipzig,” he told the Times.

“[Marcelo] Bielsa was the coach and I don’t know if you know this but my goal in my career is to play in the Premier League. I didn’t speak with Bielsa but of course, he sends a few people and they came to Zagreb. I met these guys and they show me it was something like a plan [of] how they see me in their style of football. I mean, when they presented it everything looked good and you could maybe see yourself there in that moment.

“I knew that I needed to take a few steps more before I get [to the Premier League] one day. At the end, Leipzig is a really good club and I feel good here. It’s important I play almost every game. I am very grateful to Dani Olmo because he was here and I spoke with him a lot of times before I decided to sign.”

The defender has been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham in recent months, though was the subject of strong interest from Chelsea last summer, with reports claiming the Blues were in ‘advanced talks’ over a deal worth €90 million.

Gvardiol said he is ‘fine’ with the fact that the move didn’t happen, despite being ‘confused’ at first.

“Phwoar, I was confused,” he said. “I was really confused because one month before the window starts I was upstairs with the sporting director and he says, ‘Yeah Josko, we are not going to sell you, we need you, we believe in you,’ and I was like ok I am fine with this, I can stay here, I like it here, all I need is to work on myself, to play, to win something else. It was like this until the last two days.

“My agent called me and said that Chelsea is extremely interested and, of course, you definitely think about a serious offer from a huge club like Chelsea. Leipzig said they didn’t want to sell me. In the end I really struggled with that decision but we didn’t make an agreement. It is what it is. I am here and I am fine with this because my idea had been to stay here. One season was not enough. This is my second season, even one more season would be great but we will see.”

Should Gvardiol get his dream move to the Premier League, and assuming he doesn’t join Man City, he would of course come up against Erling Haaland. The defender has previously played against the Norwegian goal machine in the Bundesliga, and says he is looking forward to playing against him again.

“We played there and won 4-1 but honestly it was this period when he wanted to leave so maybe he wasn’t happy,” Gvardiol said. “I believe he is much better than what he did in that game. We have seen this season in the Premier League what he has done already, and I’m looking forward to this game because I want to play against top-class players. I believe he is one of them and is going to be even better and better.”

While Gvardiol managed to keep Haaland from scoring in that particular game, he said that Romelu Lukaku is one of the toughest opponents he’s faced, the striker currently on loan at Inter Milan after struggling to settle at Chelsea.

“He’s really big, huge,” Gvardiol said of the Belgian. “It’s hard to see the ball. He was in front of me and you are trying to look for the ball. The problem is that if you get close he puts his hand out, turns you and you’re out of the game. He’s powerful, I don’t know his weight but I believe it’s 100 kilos and he’s even faster than me.”

One of Gvardiol’s current teammates at RB Leipzig is Christopher Nkunku, who is set to join Chelsea in the summer, and the Croatian was effusive in his praise of the French forward, before suggesting he would be keen on a move to Stamford Bridge to continue playing with Nkunku.

“I have never seen before a player like Christoph, he is unbelievable,” Gvardiol said of Nkunku. “Every time I talk with someone about him I always say wherever he goes I want to go with him.”

Read – Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 24

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