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RB Leipzig chief responds to claims Chelsea have bid for Josko Gvardiol | Football

The Croatian has been linked with a late move to Stamford Bridge (Image: Reuters)

RB Leipzig boss Oliver Mintzlaff has played down claims that Chelsea have made a £77million bid for Josko Gvardiol and suggested the German club would not be interested in a loan back.

The Croatia international has been pursued by a host of European giants all summer, with inquiries from Manchester clubs as well as Chelsea and Tottenham.

However, Leipzig were always adamant the 20-year-old would not leave the club this summer and managed to sign him on a new deal – despite including a €50m (£43m) release clause, which will come into force next summer.

But Chelsea tried to overwhelm their rivals by now offering a higher fee. Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano claimed the west London club have entered advanced talks with Leipzig after making a £77million offer on Tuesday.

Gvardiol would then be loaned back to Leipzig for the remainder of the 2022-23 season, with Chelsea ready to pay an extra £34m now to avoid being scrapped with other clubs in a year.

But RB Leipzig boss Mintzlaff downplayed the sudden speculation about the young central defender and told BILD on Tuesday evening: “Josko is a great player who will certainly attract many interested parties – but he still has a contract with us until 2026. ‘

A loan back would be out of the question, Mintzlaff continued: “We assume that he will not only play with us this season, but also next season.”

RB Leipzig boss responds to claims Chelsea made 11th-hour bid for Josko Gvardiol

Leipzig want to keep Gvardiol for as long as possible (Picture: Getty)

According to BILD’s own information, a sale of Gvardiol so late in the window – even if he is loaned back – is out of the question, while Chelsea itself would prefer an immediate entry anyway.

Although Chelsea have already secured the signing of Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and finalized a deal for Leicester’s Wesley Fofana, Thomas Tuchel still wants to add another centre-back to his ranks.

The west Londoners lost both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers at the end of last season and Tuchel felt he needed three new centre-backs to strengthen his defence, with a focus on signing younger players.

Fofana broadly ticks that box as the 21-year-old’s move will be announced immediately after he passed a medical in New York on Tuesday.

Gvardiol would be another impressive addition and is ideal for the role of left centre-back in Tuchel’s back three as the German coach has had to switch to a back four this season due to a lack of suitable options in that position.

When Tuchel first took charge at Chelsea the team’s defense was extremely impressive but they have not kept a clean sheet in their last four games and have conceded eight goals in that span, having scored two more in the first half against Southampton on Tuesday night .

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