Ralf Rangnick did not turn out to be a good interim manager for Manchester United. One part of Rangnick’s skill set he did not get a chance to develop, was his eye for talent.

Rangnick reportedly recommended a number of players to Manchester United – which the club decided not to pursue, preferring not to spend in his one transfer window.

One player picked out by Rangnick was Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Gvardiol has been starring at the World Cup, and was particularly impressive in Croatia’s goalless draw with Belgium.

He helped shut out former United striker Romelu Lukaku, who Chelsea spent £97 million on. Now it could be Gvardiol who fetches this kind of fee.

Croatia v Belgium: Group F - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Photo by Pablo Morano/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Gvardiol earns World Cup plaudits

Gvardiol plays for RB Leipzig. The Telegraph had reported Manchester United considered a move back in June but interest went no further.

Still only 20, Gvardiol is a centre-back who has everything. He is quick, strong, always alert, and is still very young. His best years are ahead of him.

Croatia teammate Mateo Kovacic told TMW: “He’s phenomenal, he’s 20 and he’s already fantastic.”

Analyst Zach Lowy wrote on Twitter: “Joško Gvardiol is a Rolls-Royce of a defender. 20 years old and the best player on the pitch in a match that featured Kevin De Bruyne and Luka Modrić…sensational center back.”

The highlight of his defending was a last ditch interception to divert the ball away from Romelu Lukaku’s feet, when the Belgium striker had looked set for a tap-in.

Gvardiol completed 95 per cent of his passes, made nine clearances, and won three duels. He even created one chance.

Playing in his first World Cup, Gvardiol looks settled. His Croatia side have kept two clean sheets and only conceded one goal. They will be hard to beat in the knockout stages.

Gvardiol and Martinez would be perfect partnership

Manchester United elected to sign Lisandro Martinez instead this summer. We can’t complain with this decision at all, the Argentine has been fantastic.

But would it be greedy to want Gvardiol to become Martinez’s partner at Manchester United for the years ahead?

The Guardian reported Erik ten Hag is willing to let Harry Maguire leave at the end of the season. His sale would part-fund a move for Gvardiol, who is nine years younger.

Raphael Varane is the same age, and United’s next centre-back needs to be young, the same kind of profile as Gvardiol.

If there is a way for United to land Gvardiol in the summer of 2023, the club need to find a way to make it happen.

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