Ahead of Croatia’s last-sixteen World Cup match against Japan in Qatar, reports have emerged that Josko Gvardiol was recommended to Manchester United as a potential top transfer target by interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
As interim manager, the German oversaw a frankly horrific Red Devils side that were as devoid of enthusiasm as they were of tactical acumen.
And, according to Talksport, Rangnick made Gvardiol his top recommendation as a player who would improve United’s leaky defence.
At 20 years of age, the Croatian is already considered one of the best centre halves in world football.
His passing from the back is a particularly strong part of his game and, along with his left-footedness, would certainly have helped United’s build up play last term.
His recovery pace could also have helped United push up their defensive line in order to play a more proactive pressing game, something that was difficult to do with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in the side.
Of course, Erik ten Hag made his own recommendation for a top defensive target in the form of Argentina star Lisandro Martinez.
The former Ajax player has managed to provide those qualities at Old Trafford and has started his career in England with aplomb.
He remains the only left-footed central defender in the squad, however, and sooner or later Ten Hag will look for a player to support him in that regard.
It is unlikely that Gvardiol will be that player, with his profile that of a someone who would be an automatic starter at a top club.
The Croatia star would not come cheap either, in terms of fee or salary, and a host of other top clubs see him as an ideal addition to their backlines.
Premier League rivals Liverpool and Chelsea are among them, meaning United fans may well see ‘what they could have won’ before too long, with a January move possible.