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RB Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol leaves door open to Chelsea move

:Headline: RB Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol leaves door open to Chelsea move:
RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol refuses to close the door on a January switch to Chelsea.
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RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol has refused to shut the door on a possible switch to Chelsea in the January transfer window.

The 20-year-old was rumoured to be one of Thomas Tuchel's leading targets over the summer following the exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

However, Leipzig were under little pressure to sell Gvardiol, who is under contract at the Red Bull Arena until the end of the 2026-27 season, and Oliver Mintzlaff confirmed at the end of August that a sale would not be considered.

"Josko still has a contract with us until 2026. We assume that he will not only play with us this season, but also next season," Mintzlaff told Bild.

After Chelsea moved onto other targets, Gvardiol reaffirmed his commitment to Leipzig by signing a new long-term contract at the start of September, having gone from strength to strength since his arrival in 2021.

The Croatia international has not been a regular starter for the Bundesliga club in the early stages of the 2022-23 season, though, and he has hinted that he may be open to a move to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

"I'm happy at Leipzig, I still have a lot to learn and need to work on myself. I have people who deal with it, I didn't think about a transfer. We'll see what happens in the winter," Gvardiol recently told reporters.

The former Dinamo Zagreb man made 47 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig during his debut season, scoring two goals and setting up three more as Die Roten Bullen won the DFB-Pokal.

Upon extending his contract with Leipzig at the start of September, Gvardiol insisted that there was still "a lot" of achievements he wanted to fulfil during his time in Germany.

"I'm very happy to have extended the contract early until 2027, because I still want to achieve a lot with RB Leipzig," Gvardiol told the club's media outlets.

"I feel the club's confidence to continue my development. We're in the Champions League again, won the DFB Cup last year and want to play for titles again this year.

"I am very grateful to those responsible at the club that they plan long-term with me and want to continue on this successful path with me."

The Croatian has already made eight appearances for Leipzig in the 2022-23 season, although he has only started three of their seven Bundesliga games.

Upon their failure to prise Gvardiol away from RB Leipzig, Chelsea brought in Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and Marc Cucurella, as well as extending Cesar Azpilicueta's contract until 2024.

Having replaced Tuchel with Graham Potter, co-owner Todd Boehly is on the hunt for a new permanent sporting director and is understood to have held talks with Leipzig's Mintzlaff before both parties decided to end negotiations.

Chelsea have also seen Red Bull Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund confirm that he will stay with the Austrian champions, and Bayer Leverkusen's Tim Steidten has reportedly been earmarked as an alternative option.

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