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The remarkable rise of Josko Gvardiol



The remarkable rise of Josko Gvardiol

Manchester City, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool – the biggest clubs are currently being mentioned when it comes to the future of Leipzig central defender Josko Gvardiol. The 21-year-old Croatian is one of the most sought-after defenders in the world. An award that he would have thought unthinkable just a few years ago.

Because as a junior player in the Dinamo Zagreb academy, things didn’t always go the way he imagined. “When I was 16 or 17, I was still on the bench in the youth teams,” Gvardiol said in February Times. “I was frustrated and thought for a moment about quitting football.”

A professional alternative to becoming a professional would have been to join his father’s family business. Gvardiol senior has a stall at a fish market in Zagreb, and as a teenager, Josko would often get up at 4 a.m. to help sell fish there.

Josko Gvardiol: Suddenly it works with football

However, Gvardiol’s statements suggest that this job would not necessarily have been his fulfillment in the long run. “By the way, I hate fish,” he admitted. “Imagine you’re 16 and you only eat fish at home every day. I want to try something different.”

Meanwhile, Gvardiol chose to continue with football and not quit. As we all know by now, that should pay off.

“I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I was playing and they finally saw something in me, recognized my quality,” explained the Croatian World Cup third. “And within a year I made the leap to the second team at Dinamo Zagreb.”

Josko Gvardiol: Soon the most expensive defender in the world?

Suddenly it went very fast. Through the second team, he quickly rose to the top among the pros. He became a regular player, played the Europa League, and at the age of 19 made the leap to Croatia’s A national team.

Leipzig then put almost 19 million euros on the table in the summer of 2021 to bring Gvardiol to the Bundesliga. His contract with RB runs until 2027, but a move to one of the top clubs in Europe after the season is quite possible – and that would probably make Gvardiol the most expensive defender of all time. His transfer fee is apparently over 100 million euros.