Most Leeds United fans would have known exactly who Josko Gvardiol was before this World Cup, the tournament in which the Croatian is confirming, without doubt, his position as one of the biggest talents on the planet.

Gvardiol has been exceptional for both RB Leipzig and Croatia for a couple of years now. But the race for his signature looks set to accelerate rapidly after his displays in Qatar.

Gvardiol Leeds
Photo by Pawel Andrachiewicz/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

And his performance against Belgium today deserves to be remembered as one of the displays of the tournament.

Gvardiol performance a painful reminder for Leeds fans of what could have been

Croatia knew before the game that a draw would be enough to book their place in the last 16. And they were up against a Belgium team which had been pretty uninspiring in their first two games.

Gvardiol Leeds
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Ultimately, Roberto Martinez’s men had the opportunities to steal the win. But Croatia kept a clean sheet. And no player did more to earn the 2018 finalists that point than Gvardiol.

Jermaine Jenas suggested to BBC One (broadcast on 1/12) that he was ‘different class’. And he expressed his disbelief that the defender is still only 20 years of age.

It is no surprise that Chelsea are chasing him (via 90min). Meanwhile, Tottenham are also admirers (via Tuttomercatoweb). Gvardiol is destined for the very top of the game.

And with that, us Leeds fans have been left to wonder what may have been based on reports following our promotion in 2020.

The Daily Mail reported in August of that year that Leeds had entered into talks to sign a largely-unknown 18-year-old at Dinamo Zagreb by the name of Josko Gvardiol.

The signs were positive, with Bayern Munich previously showing interest in Gvardiol.

And within a couple of weeks, it appeared that Victor Orta had got his man. The Daily Mail reported that Leeds were ‘set to sign’ Gvardiol for just £17.6 million.

Of course, that proved to not be the case. Leeds went on to sign Diego Llorente, having already landed Robin Koch. And Gvardiol would move to Leipzig.

Obviously, we could not force Gvardiol to make the move. So it is hard to criticise anyone at Elland Road.

But goodness, it clearly would have been a game-changer had he decided to sign for Leeds two years ago.