Rio Ferdinand gives glowing Josko Gvardiol verdict amid Chelsea and Arsenal transfer links


Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has labelled Croatia international Josko Gvardiol as his “favourite” defender at the Qatar 2022 World Cup so far. The 20-year-old is expected to be one of the most sought after centre-backs in the coming transfer windows.

The youngster has been linked with a switch to both Chelsea and Arsenal among many others, but his impressive performances for Croatia have continued to see his stock rise on the global stage. This was most clearly on display in his nation’s huge goalless draw over Belgium in the group stages that earnt them a place in the last-16 of the tournament.

A heroic defensive display denied some late goal mouth action from the side ranked No.2 in the FIFA world rankings. One of those was a last gasp flick from Gvardiol to deny Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku from scoring a huge winner for his side.

With the Blues and the Gunners eyeing a deal, his asking price could yet shoot even higher from RB Leipzig, meaning a huge investment may have to be on the cards. If Todd Boehly or Edu have any doubts over a move, then someone who has been there and done it as a top level defender has explained just how good he is and can be. When asked about Gvardiol, Ferdinand told the BBC:

“He’s been my favourite defender to watch in the tournament so far. He’s got great presence, happy for the battle, physical, and got a wand of a left foot. He’s got pace as well, and I think all those attributes are what you need as a modern day defender. “The ball comes out to him and straight away he gets it on his left foot, can play the ball various distances with pinpoint accuracy. Straight through the lines, beats any kind of press, comfortable on either foot. As comfortable as he is with the ball at his feet passing he’s also comfortable running out with it. But also the aggressiveness, that nature again to come out, but not just finish it there.

“Burst out, look at the pace, willing to get forward. That youth, fearlessness, and quick enough feet for someone of his size. Everything about him, for me, has been so positive. Defending the front post, we don’t see enough of that. Most defenders get that wrong, and that (his tackle on Lukaku vs Belgium) was the tackle of the tournament.”

In a nervy first-half against Japan, Croatia went in 1-0 down at the break. However, Ferdinand stated why difficult instances like that can be advantageous in the long run.

“20-years-old, knockout stages so maybe a bit nervous,” Ferdinand added. “I think his second touch of the ball he’s put it into the stands but listen, he’ll grow, he’ll come of age and learn. “You learn a lot more about yourself when things don’t go as normal and you don’t play your normal game. He’s had good moments but he’s also had good moments where you can see he’s 20-years- old and inexperienced. This kid will have a good career don’t you worry about that.”

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