Mateo Kovacic has backed Manchester City’s pursuit of his fellow Croatian Josko Gvardiol. City are looking to sign the left-footed centre-back who starred at the Qatar World Cup but will have to pay a world-record fee for a defender to prise him from RB Leipzig.
The German side, who City knocked out of the Champions League on the way to their Istanbul triumph last season, want £87million for the 21-year-old. Leipzig have told the treble winners they have just two weeks to complete a deal before they permanently withdraw from talks.
Gvardiol is keen to make the move to the Etihad after two seasons at the Leipzig Arena but cannot do so unless City present an offer that meets Leipzig’s demands – including achievable add-ons. But Kovacic, who himself only joined Pep Guardiola’s squad a few weeks ago, has made it clear he would love countryman Gvardiol to join him in Manchester.
The £30million midfielder said out in Seoul on City’s pre-season tour: “Of course I’d like him (Gvardiol) to join. I know he’s very young and has great potential. He can come here and learn and be the best version of himself, like he wants to be for sure.
“It’s not for me to comment if it’s going to happen or not. I’d obviously like it – I’m good friends with him and he’s Croatian. It would be nice to have a Croatian by my side here.
“Josko is still young but he’s very mature for his age. He doesn’t need too much advice. He’s already played a lot of big games and I think he’s ready for this step.
“He had a great World Cup and a great season with RB Leipzig, so it would be nice for him to join such a big club and try to improve even more. I think it’s a good time (to join City).
“They are on a great run, a very confident team and a team you can learn from – and they have possibly the best manager in history. I came here to join a great group and to try to learn – and so can he.”
Gvardiol is one of the highest-rated young centre-halves in Europe and impressed in Qatar last winter as Croatia finished third in the World Cup. He has already amassed 21 international appearances as he looks to enjoy a successful career for his country like Kovacic, who has played 95 times for the Vatreni.
City have until August 12 to agree a deal before Marco Rose’s Leipzig kickstart their season with a German Super Cup clash against Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga side have earmarked Feyenoord’s Lutsharel Geertruida and Lyon’s Castello Lukeba as potential replacements.