Josko Gvardiol has Manchester City medical: why is he nicknamed “Little Pep”?
Pep Guardiola’s side have agreed a deal with RB Leipzig for the defender, who has impressed in the Champions League.
Josko Gvardiol has been touted by many as the best young defender in Europe (even the greatest have been turned inside out by Lionel Messi, as happened to him during the Argentina vs Croatia semi-final at the 2022 World Cup). The 21-year-old has been hugely impressive in the Bundesliga and the Champions League since moving to RB Leipzig in 2021 from Dinamo Zagreb in his homeland and, as a result, is on the verge of completing a €90 million ($98.5 million) transfer to European champions Manchester City.
Gvardiol to complete City move “in the next few hours or days”
The two clubs agreed on a fee earlier this week and in his press conference ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield match against Arsenal, City head coach Pep Guardiola revealed his move for the Croat was very nearly over the line. “He’s doing a medical test. Everybody knows he is here. Hopefully, we can finish the deal in the next few hours or days”.
That Guardiola and Gvardiol will team up together at the Etihad seems to be fate, with the young defender nicknamed “Little Pep” by teammates at both club and international level.
Is “Gvardiol” Croatian for “Guardiola”?
Why? Is it as obvious as it sounds? Well, it has nothing to do with size or playing similarities, although with his dark hair and beard, perhaps you could also make a case for “Young Pep” (maybe from far away). Gvardiol did also use to play in central midfield before making the breakthrough in the Dinamo Zagreb first team, much like his new boss.
Yes, the similarities of their surnames is responsible for the nickname, something “Big Pep” made reference to as he prepares his team to face the Gunners: “Gvardiol, what a beautiful surname he has!”
“The best central defender in the world” joins Premier League champions
The centre-back appears very unlikely to play at Wembley but should slot straight into a City team which already boasted the (joint) best defensive record in the Premier League last season. With the “best central defender in the world” - according to Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic - on his way, dethroning the reigning champions will become even more of a challenge.