The 21-year-old becomes the second signing of the summer transfer window ahead of the 2023/24 campaign, following in the footsteps of fellow Croatian international Mateo Kovacic.
Like Kovacic, Gvardiol began his senior career at Dinamo Zagreb, a breeding ground for some of the most talented Croatian players ever produced.
During two seasons in his homeland, he won two Croatian League titles, one Croatian Cup and a Croatian Super Cup before moving to RB Leipzig in Germany.
Gvardiol made 87 appearances for the Red Bulls across the 2021/22 and 2022/23 campaigns, scoring five goals and winning two DFB-Pokal trophies.
He has won 21 caps for Croatia, excelling in their third-place finish in the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
Gvardiol says he is thrilled to have arrived in the Premier League and can’t wait to get started under new boss Pep Guardiola.
“I have always dreamed of one day playing in England and to be doing so now with Manchester City – after the season they have just had – is a real honour for me.
“Anyone who saw Manchester City play last season knows they are the best team in the world. To win the Treble says everything you need to know about the quality this team has.
“To be joining City is something very special for me and my family.
“To have the chance to work with Pep Guardiola, too, will be amazing. I know I am not yet the finished article and I am sure my game will progress under the best coach in football.
“To be linking up with Mateo Kovacic will also be special. He’s a top footballer and I hope we can both help City achieve another successful season in 2023/24 and then beyond.”
Director of Football Txiki Begiristain added: “We are very happy to bring Josko to Manchester City.
“He is a player we have watched closely, and we feel he has a superb set of attributes.
“Top clubs all over Europe have been monitoring him, so to bring him here is great news for us.
“Josko has so many qualities – everything you want in a centre-half. He is fast, competitive, combative, strong in the air, impressive in possession of the ball, with strong self-belief and a good character. He is left-footed, too, which offers us good options at the back.
“He is still young but his progress in the game has been rapid. We feel confident his upward trajectory will continue here at City working with Pep and his staff.”
Everyone at Manchester City is delighted to welcome Josko to the club and we all wish him well during his time here.
Wise head, young shoulders
A move to the Premier League presents a new challenge for Josko Gvardiol, but his impressive CV suggests it’s one which will allow one of Europe’s most exciting young defenders to thrive.
City fans will already be well versed in the talent that Pep Guardiola has acquired to bolster an already impressive backline.
The Croatian was part of the RB Leipzig side to lock horns with us in each of the past two seasons, first in the UEFA Champions League Group Stages before, more recently, a two-legged Round of 16 clash.
Many young players have wilted under the pressure of Europe’s elite competition but, for Gvardiol, that intense atmosphere has instead brought the best out of him time and again.
In 2021/22, he put in an assured performance at centre-half to earn a 2-1 win over City, guaranteeing progress into the Europa League knockout stages in the process.
Just over 12 months later, with the defender now an established member of Die Roten Bullen’s squad despite his tender years, Gvardiol once again played a starring role in Saxony, this time powering home a header to earn a 1-1 draw.
The 21-year-old had already proven his threat from set-pieces when he nodded home Leipzig’s opener in a 3-2 win over reigning champions Real Madrid in the group stages, but it wasn’t the goalscoring contribution that really caught the eye against Pep Guardiola’s men.
With a gritty physicality and defensive nous, Gvardiol looked at home among some of the powerhouses of European football.
While Erling Haaland would take centre stage in the reverse fixture, the defender played an important role in keeping the Norwegian quiet in Germany, while his vision and obvious ability with both feet showed he had more than enough quality to create as well as extinguish attacks.
Combine those abilities with an impressive versatility and tactical intelligence which has occasionally seen him operate at both full-back and in a defensive midfield role, and the 21-year-old has already provided the perfect audition to suggest that he has what it takes to flourish at City.
He has looked every inch a player ready to grab the grand occasion by the scruff of the neck, rather than shrink under its significant shadow, exemplified by him playing a starring role in another historic World Cup tournament for his home nation in 2022.
Croatia’s march to the 2018 World Cup final was a truly remarkable feat for a side who had failed to progress beyond the group stages in three decades.
Four years later in Qatar, despite the outstanding quality of captain Luka Modric, new City man Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic in midfield, their chances of coming close to emulating that feat would have been considered slim at best by even the most optimistic of supporters.
But Croatia would end up finishing third at the 2022 World Cup, beating tournament favourites Brazil en route to the semis, when they were beaten by eventual winners, Argentina.
And while the creativity, quality and experience of Modric, Kovacic and Brozovic played a significant part in that success, the organisation of the Croatian backline provided a platform for those leading lights to flourish.
Still just 20 years old, Gvardiol was an ever-present at the heart of defence, earning a deserved inclusion in a plethora of ‘team of the tournament’ squads from hugely respected media outlets.
He finished the tournament with 11 interceptions and won possession 48 times for his nation, both the best figures for a defender at the 2022 World Cup and was also a central figure for RB Leipzig in his second full season at the club as they finished third in the German Bundesliga.
Only champions Bayern Munich and fourth-placed Union Berlin ended the campaign with a better defensive record than Die Roten Bullen, while Gvardiol was the only RB Leipzig player to be included in the VDV Bundesliga Team of the Season – voted for by his fellow professionals.
His pass accuracy of 91.1% was the eighth best return in the entire German top-flight, with only centre-back partner Willi Orban able to better that tally among his team-mates.
A physically imposing figure who also possesses the technical subtlety which is demanded of any defender playing in a possession-based system – he’s every inch a player of the Guardiola mould.
Despite only making his senior professional debut in 2019 for Dinamo Zagreb, Gvardiol has consistently stamped his authority on any stage he’s had the opportunity to do so.
He did it in Qatar, he’s done it in Leipzig, now it’s time for him to repeat the trick in Manchester.
Season by Season stats
2019/20: Dinamo Zagreb
2020/21: Dinamo Zagreb
2021/22: RB Leipzig
2022/23: RB Leipzig