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[Sports] Josko Gvardiol transfer news: Who is Manchester City's £77m signing from RB Leipzig?


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Manchester City's signing of RB Leipzig and Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol for £77m makes him the second-most expensive defender of all-time. The 21-year-old left-footed centre-back, who can play at left-back too, has been called 'little Pep' because of his name's similarity to City boss Pep Guardiola. So who is Gvardiol, just how good is he - and what would he bring to City? Who are the most expensive defenders ever? City already have three of the top 10 most expensive defenders- with Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Aymeric Laporte - although the futures of the latter two are in doubt.

How will Gvardiol fit in at City? Gvardiol, who is 6ft 1in, is a left-sided central defender, and City feel he could feature in a back three or in a four-man defence. With Guardiola's management, though, it is hard to always gauge what might happen regarding a player's development. Gvardiol is primarily a centre-back, who has also played at left-back on occasion. John Stones, Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji were considered to be central defenders too - but Ake and Akanji played some of last season at full-back and Stones ended the campaign in a hybrid midfield role. Gvardiol's statistics in the Bundesliga last season are comparable to City's current centre-back contingent. His passing accuracy is slightly lower, but he made more interventions and won possession more often.

In Europe's top five leagues, only four defenders touched the ball more times per 90 minutes than Gvardiol. City's Ruben Dias topped the list, while Benjamin Pavard, Jordi Alba and Dayot Upamecano - from Guardiola's old teams Bayern Munich and Barcelona - were also above Gvardiol. One of Gvardiol's five goals for Leipzig was a header against City in the Champions League last 16 first leg this year. "He's fast, intense, dynamic, really good at changing directions and really good at transitioning from attack and defence and vice versa," German football expert Jasmine Baba told BBC Radio Manchester's We're Not Really Here podcast in June. "He's a really good, agile defender and his strength is in passing while he's in possession - even under pressure, he still finds solutions to play it forward. "John Stones has been pushed into more of a midfielder - I can see that happening with Gvardiol too. "It's kind of a no-brainer why someone like Pep Guardiola would want him. He really is a dream prospect at his young age." Who is Gvardiol and is he a proven winner?

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The defender already has four years of first-team experience with Dinamo Zagreb and Leipzig and has won a domestic cup in each of the past three seasons - in 2021 in Croatia and in the 2022 and 2023 German Cups. He was very close to joining Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United in 2020 but moved to Leipzig instead. "Gvardiol is the best central defender in the world. He's so mature. The way he plays, with the grace he controls the ball, it's amazing," said Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic last year. Gvardiol helped Croatia reach the World Cup semi-finals last year and scored in their third-place play-off win over Morocco. Only three players at the World Cup played more successful passes than Gvardiol's 463. City's Rodri led the way. Gvardiol ranked sixth for touches of the ball (612). Gvardiol made more clearances than any other player in Qatar with 37, and he was joint second, level with England's Declan Rice, for interceptions with 11. He also ranked fifth for headed clearances (14). A version of this article was first published in June 2023. Latest Manchester City news, analysis and fan views Get Man City news notifications

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