DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 04: Josko Gvardiol of Croatia speaks during Croatia Press Conference on match day -1 at main media center on December 04, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Patrick Smith - FIFA)

Liverpool “admire” highly-rated defender – but summer transfer “unlikely”

Liverpool have again been linked with RB Leipzig’s young defender, Josko Gvardiol, but a new report suggests his signature is “unlikely.”

As summer draws closer, the number of players that Liverpool are being linked to increases every day.

The latest name is Gvardiol, a 21-year-old centre-back who has impressed for RB Leipzig this season.

Last week, Sky Sports Germany’s Florian Plettenberg, who broke the news of Roberto Firmino‘s imminent departure, said that Gvardiol is “on Liverpool’s list.”

However, a new report from the Athletic has suggested a move could be unlikely despite interest from the Reds.

The Athletic reports that the Croatian international is “admired by senior recruitment figures at Liverpool, who have closely tracked his development.”

However, they add: “Liverpool may well need to bring in another centre-back as cover but given the competition for his signature and the size of the fee that will be required to secure his services, it’s unlikely to be Gvardiol.”

2NJCT64 Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen first leg soccer match between RB Leipzig and Manchester City in Leipzig, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Andreas Gora)

With a release clause worth €110 million only coming into effect in 2024, you could see why the Reds would pursue alternative targets.

But it’s not hard to see why Liverpool are among a host of top clubs said to be interested in the defender.

Since joining RB Leipzig, from Dinamo Zagreb in 2021, the youngster has become known for his front-foot defending and ability on the ball.

He may prove hard to keep hold of for the German outfit.

His manager, Marco Rose, has already confirmed that Gvardiol wants to play in the Premier League, but last month Rose also declared that he “will be an RB Leipzig player next season.”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JUNE 18: Josko Gvardiol of Croatia is challenged by Vladimir Darida of Czech Republic during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between Croatia and Czech Republic at Hampden Park on June 18, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Steve Bardens - UEFA)

One thing that could give Liverpool an advantage in the race for his signature is their good relationship with the Bundesliga club. Naby Keita and Ibrahima Konate have both signed from RB Leipzig in recent years.

The Reds have been linked with a host of centre-backs, among them Sporting’s Goncalo Inacio, Benfica’s Antonio Silva, Chelsea‘s Levi Colwill, Everton‘s Jarrad Branthwaite, and Torini’s Perr Schuurs.

With Nat Phillips expected to move on and doubts over the future of Joel Matip, whose contract runs until 2024, it is a position Liverpool will need to bolster.