Croatia teenager Josko Gvardiol is the latest star to come out of Croatia – and he wants a move to Liverpool.
The 19-year-old played at left-back for his country as they secured a 3-1 win against Scotland, securing second place in Euro 2020 Group D.
With four points from their three games, it means that the 2018 World Cup finalists are likely to be playing again in the round-of-16.
Gvardiol’s place is at risk, though, as he was replaced after 70 minutes at Hampden Park by Borna Barisic, holding his left shin after a tackle.
Even if the 19-year-old misses out, the youngster is still on a rapid upward trajectory in his short career.
Having started playing football aged seven, the defender learned his trade from dad Tihomir – a former amateur player for hometown side Novigrad.
And he was taken to the capital city Zagreb where Tresnjevka took him on as a youth player.
After just a year, he had attracted the attention of three Croatian First Football League sides in Lokomotiva, NK Zagreb and champions Dinamo Zagreb.
The last side came in late, tempting Gvardiol’s parents to let the versatile defender grow in their academy.
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Working up the ranks to attract Manchester City and Bayern Munich’s attention following an impressive 2018/19 UEFA Youth League campaign, his senior-team call came that summer.
Croatia’s young star had been working his way up the age grades internationally since 2016, up to U21 by the same time.
And Zagreb coach Nenad Bjelica called him up for pre-season, letting him make 12 appearances that season – and even scoring a goal in his second appearance.
These performances had attracted the attention of Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa in 2020, offering £18.8m for the then-18-year-old.
Refusing to stay for development at Zagreb, he was offered a better deal by RB Leipzig, offering £13.7m while allowing him to stay in Croatia.
Adding 40 appearances and three goals to his tally, he did have to miss their biggest game of the season – the 3-2 Europa League comeback against Tottenham – due to injury.
Having helped his country reach the U21 European Championship quarter-finals, national team manager Zlatko Dalic called him up for a pre-Euro 2020 friendly against Belgium.
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Starting in all three games, Gvardiol has now played a huge role – at just 19 – in getting his side to the round-of-16.
But the next big step could be a decision of his own, with the full-back wanting a move to Premier League giants Liverpool.
Speaking to 24 Sata, the 19-year-old said: “From a young age, I watched Liverpool games with my dad and I grew up with just them.
“When I took football more seriously, I started following them, and I definitely want the Premier League and Liverpool move one day.”