RB Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl has confirmed that defender Josko Gvardiol is keen to join Manchester City, with both clubs in talks over a potential €100m (£86m) deal this summer.
The 21-year-old, widely regarded as one of the brightest defensive prospects in world football, has been identified as a top transfer target by Citizens manager Pep Guardiola ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.
Gvardiol made 41 appearances across all competitions in 2022-23 for Leipzig, who won a second successive DFB-Pokal and qualified for next season’s Champions League courtesy of a third-placed finish in the Bundesliga.
The Croatia international also starred for his country at the 2022 World Cup, playing in every minute of their seven matches in Qatar and scoring in the third-placed playoff victory over Morocco.
Just over a year ago, Gvardiol extended his Leipzig contract until June 2027, meaning the German club are in a strong position to place an extortionate asking price on their star defender.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have all previously been credited with an interest in the youngster, who revealed earlier this year that he wants to play in the Premier League.
However, Man City appear to have accelerated their pursuit of Gvardiol at a time when their English top-flight rivals have turned their attention to other targets, leaving the treble winners with a clear path to make their move.
Gvardiol is understood to have already agreed personal terms with the Citizens, and Leipzig chief Eberl has now confirmed that both clubs are in talks over a deal which would make the youngster the most expensive defender in the world.
As quoted by The Times, Eberl said: “Gvardiol and his agents gave us their desire to move to Manchester City. We are in talks with City.
“Yes, for €100m plus bonuses, Gvardiol will end up in Pep’s strong hands. The value of the deal would make Gvardiol the most expensive defender in history. But it might take a few more days.”
Gvardiol’s potential big-money move to the Etihad Stadium would eclipse the £80m spent by Man United on centre-back Harry Maguire in 2019.
Leipzig – who completed the £60m sale of Dominik Szoboszlai to Liverpool on Sunday – are believed to have inserted a €110m (£94.4m) release clause into Gvardiol’s contract last year, but that clause does not become active until 2024, and the Bundesliga side are now seemingly open to negotiating a slightly lower fee with the Citizens.
Guardiola already has a number of central defensive options at his disposal, but the potential arrival of Gvardiol could pave the way for fellow left-footed defender Aymeric Laporte to seek pastures new.
Laporte has been tipped to end his five-and-a-half-year association with Man City after falling down the pecking order last season, starting just 11 Premier League games.
Man City have already completed the signing of Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea, and they may consider recruiting another midfielder this summer, with Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong understood to have emerged as a possible target after pulling out of the race to sign Arsenal-bound Declan Rice.