With Niklas Süle, David Alaba, Lucas Hernandez, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez all currently on the Bayern Munich roster, plus prospects Chris Richards and Lars Lukas Mai champing at the bit for an opportunity with the first-team, it would seem that the Bavarians are dealing with a surplus of available talent that can play center-back.
Even with that depth, there are question marks. David Alaba is in the midst of contract negotiations, while Süle has missed most of the season with ACL injury. Hernandez has also battled his health and been inconsistent when on the pitch, while Boateng’s future is also uncertain. Even Martinez, a midfielder who has proven he can drop-back to the central defense in a pinch, is potentially headed out of Munich.
Factoring in all of that, Bayern Munich is once again scouring its network to find another diamond in the rough for the central defense.
Enter Dinamo Zagreb prospect and Croatian junior international Josko Gvardiol.
Gvardiol is a six-foot 18-year-old with experience playing as a center-back and left-back and is currently being scouted by Bayern Munich according to Spox, which captured a report from Croatian-outlet Sportske Novosti:
Bundesliga record champions Bayern Munich are apparently stretching out their feelers for Croatian junior international Josko Gvardiol from Dinamo Zagreb.
Per Transfermarkt, Gvardiol’s agent Jurica Vranjes and newly-minted Bayern Munich assistant coach Miroslav Klose have a relationship from their time playing together at Werder Bremen, and Klose reached out to Vranjes to indicate that the Bavarians were interested in the youngster.
Sportske Novosti went on to report that Vranjes once gave Klose a “tip” on budding Croatian star Josip Brekalo, who eventually signed with Wolfsburg and is on his way to a fine career. After missing on Brekalo, Klose might be advising the Bavarians to take a close look at Gvardiol. Vranjes told Sportske Novosti, “Now he’s very interested in Josko Gvardiol.”
Versatile and talented, Gvardiol reportedly caught Klose’s eye when Dinamo Zagreb bounced Bayern Munich’s U-19 squad from the UEFA Youth League:
Gvardiol is a trained central defender and can also be used on the left defense. The 18-year-old already made his debut with the Dinamo professionals. According to Vranjes, Klose watched him at the U-19 when they eliminated Bayern’s A-Juniors out of the UEFA Youth League.
Gvardiol is still under contract in Zagreb until 2022 and Vranjes thinks a potential move could be more of a future deal than an immediate move for the youngster.
“Bayern knows that Dinamo players are not cheap,” said Vranjes. “And Bayern is not really known for spending five or six million euros for such a young player.”
A move for Gvardiol this season would likely signal that Bayern Munich is confident that Mai, Richards, or both players will be sent on a loan assignment or promoted. The Bayern II defensive corps would absolutely need a boost if both players move on ahead of next season and Gvardiol would seemingly be a natural fit to slide into one of those roles.
With first-team experience in hand, Gvardiol is also a player who Bayern Munich could call up from the amateur side should it encounter injuries as well. For now, Bayern Munich fans might want to tuck Gvardiol’s name away in the back of their respective minds as any move for the youngster will likely be on of the last dominoes to fall in what could be a very active offseason for the defensive corps of Die Roten.