Newcastle United are reportedly planning to make a €20 million offer to sign Fenerbahce’s Hungarian defender Attila Szalai.
According to British media, as relayed by Turkish outlet Haberturk, Newcastle United are ramping up their pursuit of Fenerbahce’s central defender Attila Szalai and are considering tabling a €20 million bid to secure the services of the Hungarian international as Eddie Howe looks to strengthen his central defensive ranks.
The club have found it difficult to add further reinforcements to their squad so far in this transfer window following the arrival of Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood earlier this month. In an ideal scenario, Howe would like to improve three positions: midfield, centre-half and left-back. Perhaps most acute of all is the need to add a new central defender.
The Magpies continue to be disappointed in their hunt for central defensive reinforcements. They have seen multiple bids rejected for their top targets, with both Sevilla’s Diego Carlos and Lille’s Sven Botman seemingly set to remain with their current clubs. Meanwhile, Newcastle’s interest in Monaco’s Benoit Badiashile and James Tarkowski has also died down in recent weeks.
It has led to the Tyneside outfit seemingly realigning their radar and aiming for more realistic targets. Newcastle had submitted an £8 million offer to sign Brighton’s Dan Burn but have seen their opening bid swiftly knocked back by the south coast club. Whether they will return with an improved proposal remains to be seen, but it appears Hungary star Szalai has emerged as a potential target late in the window.
After progressing through the youth ranks at Rapid Wien, Szalai had a brief spell with Hungarian outfit Mezokovesd Zsory before switching to Cypriot First Division outfit Apollon Limassol. He then joined Fenerbahce in early 2021 and has gone on to make 51 competitive appearances for the Super Lig giants. The Hungarian defender has been solid at the heart of the Yellow Canaries’ backline.
His rapid rise after the UEFA EURO 2020 has grabbed the attention of many suitors, including West Ham and Chelsea, whom he was on the cusp of joining back in December 2021, going by Hungarian national team manager Marco Rossi’s comments. However, a move did not materialize, and now Newcastle are considering a €20 million offer to secure the 24-year-old’s signature.
Newcastle’s defensive record has been abysmal this season, and only Norwich have shipped in more goals in the division than the Magpies, while Howe’s side have only kept two clean sheets all season. Attila Szalai would represent a very smart signing and could be a long-term fix.
At 6ft 4in, the Fenerbahce defender has a commanding aerial presence in the box and is intelligent enough to make vital interventions for his side. He has a tremendous defensive work rate and aggression. Most importantly, he is a left-footed ball-playing defender who loves to make precise progressive passes, suiting Howe’s current requirement.
The 24-year-old is under contract with Fener until 2025, and it is believed that a suitor would have to pay in the region of £17 million to acquire the services of the Hungarian centre-half, who is apparently eager to test his mettle in the Premier League. Whether Newcastle steps up their interest with a €20 million formal bid remains to be seen.