Josko Gvardiol has emerged as one of the best-performing defenders in the ongoing FIFA World Cup this year, raising many eyebrows with his consistent performances at the back for Croatia.
The RB Leipzig star was notably rock-solid at the back during Croatia’s Round of 16 clash against Japan. And it appears his performances have not gone unnoticed either, as several clubs have started to take note and are eyeing a move for the defender in the near future.
According to a report from Evening Standard, one of those clubs are Real Madrid. The reigning European champions have joined Chelsea in the race to sign the RB Leipzig defender and are ready to rival any bids that come for the player.
Real Madrid and Chelsea are joined by Barcelona in the race to sign Gvardiol, who has built a solid reputation for his versatility at the back.
Gvardiol is known for his muscular figure that makes him an intimidating presence at the back even for the strongest of forwards. He is also technically adept at not only rotating possession but also moving forward with the ball, if necessary.
Gvardiol has primarily operated as a centre-back in this ongoing World Cup, offering solidity at the back, along with balance.
For Real Madrid, the breakthrough of the 20-year-old serves as a blessing as the club have been on the lookout for a versatile defender for a while.
Even though Los Blancos already boasts the services of a plethora of defenders, Nacho Fernandez’s future at the club has come under question as he is stalling contract talks due to his reduced role in the team.
Gvardiol, to that end, can not only offer fresh blood but can also be an alternative for Ferland Mendy at left-back, thus making him an excellent long-term investment.
However, luring Gvardiol away from Leipzig might not be a cheap operation. With the defender still having a contract until 2027, he might cost a fortune, especially with clubs such as Chelsea and Barcelona also interested in his services.
Ancelotti talks Kroos, Modric, Bellingham, Vinicius ahead of Atletico vs Real Madrid
After escaping with a narrow 1-0 win against Union Berlin in the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid face a tough task this weekend as they travel to the other side of the Spanish capital to face their old pals Atletico Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have put in several solid offensive performances through the season so far, but have found it difficult to finish chances, often relying on Jude Bellingham to rescue the game in the last moments.
Their task will be much tougher against an Atletico side that is winless in two games and looking to get back up on the curb.
On them, Ancelotti commented, “Tomorrow’s game is an important one. Atletico Madrid area a strong rival. We can’t wait to play.”
Injury updates: Vinicius, Guler, Bellingham
Vinicius Jr has missed the last three games due to injury, but will be evaluated today to decide his participation tomorrow.
“He will be in the squad for tomorrow’s game,” Ancelotti updated the press. “We will decide tomorrow if he starts or not.”
He also said, “Vinicius has 100% recovered. Zero risks. He would not be in the squad for the game tomorrow, otherwise. We will see tomorrow.”
“He has not played for weeks, so he obviously lacks rhythm.”
As far as Arda Guler is concerned, the Turkish midfielder is yet to make his debut for the club, but is expected to join team training as early as Monday.
“Arda will start training with the team on Monday.”
Jude Bellingham left Madrid training early yesterday, which sounded some alarm bells at the club. However, Ancelotti confirmed that he will be playing tomorrow, and that there was no reason to panic.
“Jude Bellingham will play tomorrow.”
“I would not cry if he did not play. We have other players [laughs],” he joked.
Kroos, Modric, and rotations
Real Madrid have a star-studded squad, which means legendary midfielders such as Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are often left out of the starting lineup. The duo are reportedly unhappy with their role.
Ancelotti was asked about this, to which he replied, “It hurts to leave them on the bench. But only them, Valverde, Tchouameni, too. It’s always hard to leave a player on the bench.”
“They understand it because the competition is very high. I understand that a player comes out sad when he is substituted. But I do it to make the player more active.”
El Clasico vs Madrid Derby
Ancelotti was also asked to compare the Madrid derby to El Clasico, and which one he preferred more.
“There is no difference. We like to prepare for matches like these, to be champions, because there is a special tension. There is excitement and we want to win and be champions.”
“The Madrid derby is always a special game. A lot of quality between two rivals. Atletico played very well against Lazio,” he added.