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Paul Merson believes Josko Gvardiol is worth the big bucks given there is seemingly a worldwide shortage of top young centre-backs. Chelsea are expected to revive their interest in the Croatian international this January following a brilliant World Cup campaign as Zlatko Dalic’s side reached the semi-finals in Qatar.
Gvardiol was arguably the best defender at the tournament meaning Leipzig are likely to demand closer to £100million for the highly-rated 20-year-old when the market reopens.
The Blues already saw a £77m proposal knocked back for the Croat in August – meaning they will now have to up their offer if they wish to strike a deal.
Merson is confident Gvardiol would be worth the money because in his view, he is the standout young central defender from a small pool of names.
“If Josko Gvardiol doesn’t play against Lionel Messi then he could be worth that kind of money,” Merson exclusively told Express Sport.
“In this day and age, there is no centre-halves about either. It’s like the world has been taken over by wingers and wing-backs.
“Nobody seems to be producing a centre-forward or a centre-half anymore.”
Merson also believes Chelsea are in a catch-22 in terms of their transfer strategy following Todd Boehly’s excessive £270m splurge at Stamford Bridge earlier this summer.
The Sky Sports pundit claims the Blues are investing in their defence because they know they’re lacking goals in attack.
“At the moment, Chelsea are in a catch-22,” Merson added after pointing out that the Blues spent £75m on Wesley Fofana and £33m on Kalidou Koulibaly just a matter of months ago.
“They haven’t got a centre-forward that’s going to score goals. So if they don’t have a centre-forward that’s going to score goals, you’ve got to make sure you stop them at the other end.
“They’re not going to blow teams away, so I see their philosophy.
“They’re thinking ‘we’ve got to get the creme de la creme centre-halves in’ and in fairness, it’s justified.”
Real Madrid are also believed to be in contention to sign Gvardiol from Leipzig.
The former Dinamo Zagreb man came close to joining Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa for just £15m before his switch to Germany.
Instead, Leeds would eventually sign Diego Llorente from Real Sociedad for £22m.
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