Manchester City announced the signing of RB Leipzig’s Joško Gvardiol on Saturday. The Croatian is now the world’s most expensive defender, surpassing the €87m that Manchester United paid to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City in 2019. But how did the Premier League club go about signing Gvardiol?
Back in July 2022, one year after Gvardiol joined Leipzig, Manchester City showed initial interest in signing the Croatia international but the Bundesliga club had no intention of selling. The following month, Leipzig rejected an opening offer of €80m from Manchester City with Chelsea also showing an interest in the defender. Unwilling to part ways, Leipzig extended the player’s contract by a further season until 2027.
While Chelsea’s interest in signing Gvardiol dwindled following the arrivals of Wesley Fofana last summer and then Benoît Badiashile in January, Manchester City remained persistent in their efforts to sign Gvardiol.
In June 2023, Manchester City agreed personal terms with Gvardiol with Pep Guardiola’s side now just needing an agreement with Leipzig. On June 25, the Premier League champions submitted an offer of €90m plus bonuses to Leipzig for Gvardiol, which was rejected. Contrary to reports on July 19 that Manchester City had reached an agreement with Leipzig to sign Gvardiol, Max Eberl rubbished the report and stated that an agreement wasn’t “even close” on July 21.
On July 26, Manchester City went back in with an improved offer but Leipzig wanted more realistic bonuses, and it wasn’t until August 2 that City had reached an agreement with Leipzig for the defender. Gvardiol, although present in the stands, sat out of Leipzig’s two friendlies that day ahead of his €90m move, which includes Leipzig receiving a further €10m through various performance-related bonuses.
Persistence paid off and on August 5, Manchester City signed Gvardiol.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder