But so far, he has predominantly played as a left-back, pushing Nathan Ake out of the way to start City&aposs biggest games of the season there. He openly admitted that left-back was not his natural position at RB Leipzig, and he has been a first-choice centre-back for Croatia for the last two years.
Now, though, with Guardiola using him at full-back, Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic will follow suit and play Gvardiol on the left for their must-win qualifiers this week. So where is Gvardiol&aposs long-term position?
Of his 13 appearances so far for City, Gvardiol has played just twice as an out-and-out centre-back. The nature of a City left-back, especially this season with Kyle Walker bombing forward, is to tuck inside to a back three or push into the inverted holding midfield role. Gvardiol isn&apost perfect at that yet, but he&aposs still more than capable.
He&aposs been keeping Nathan Ake out of the side at left-back too, starting away at Arsenal, United and Chelsea, and appears to be first choice at the start of the season.
Yet back in August, he didn&apost know where he was set to play, telling reporters after the UEFA Super Cup: “I dont really know. You will have to ask him [Guardiola]. As long as I am on the pitch I am happy and it doesn&apost matter which position I play. I will give my best and I will try to give everything.
“It was three years ago [he played left-back for Dinamo Zagreb]. I will need some time for sure to remind myself about that and some time on the pitch.”
He has had that time, and clearly caught the attention of his national manager, who this week said: “Joko Gvardiol plays left-back at City, and in these matches, hell be in that position. I didnt get what I wanted from Borna Barii and Borna Sosa going forward.
So for two must-win games, Gvardiol will be tasked with taking his club form on the left – and the attacking attributes he has developed – into international football. He hasn&apost played at left-back since his first five caps at Euro 2020 in 2021, playing the next 20 of his international appearances in the centre.
It seems that for club and country, Gvardiol&aposs future lies at full-back – especially after Guardiola challenged him to show in training he can truly be trusted to play centrally and push into midfield like John Stones.
“Still he didn&apost prove it in training sessions and some drills that we do to see how you move in more central positions,” said Guardiola “Still I didn&apost see it.
“Maybe in the future, because he is 21 years old and at the beginning we didn&apost expect John could do that. The fact he can do that because he has been here eight years and many examples of training and concepts is there. Josko has just been with us for a few months so we need more time.”