Newcastle United have been scouting Fenerbahce powerhouse Attila Szalai ahead of a potential move in the summer transfer window…
What’s the story?
The Chronicle have revealed that the Magpies are keen on bolstering the centre of their defence this summer, and while the likes of Sven Botman and Diego Carlos remain on the table in terms of potential options, Szalai’s name also figures prominently.
The report said: “Attila Szalai of Fenerbahce is another centre-back Newcastle have been tracking and one that may be prepared to battle for his place with pressure eased in the heart of defence by the January arrival of Dan Burn.
“Toon scouts have been present to watch Szalai in recent games but have been joined by Aston Villa and notably Milan who also like the Hungary international. Newcastle already have a direct link to Szalai’s agency ROGON who look after Joelinton.”
Ideal Botman alternative for Newcastle
At a height of 6 foot 4, Szalai is a fearsome presence at the back, and if he were to arrive at St James’ Park this summer, the Magpies would boast a truly towering a centre-back partnership with him alongside 6 foot 8 Dan Burn.
Hailed by former Fenerbahce boss Emre Belozoglu as “exemplary” and with the “loudest voice in training”, Szalai possesses all the raw physical attributes to become a real force in the Premier League.
The centre-back has been a consistent performer for Fenerbahce this season, averaging 1.2 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game in the Turkish Super Lig. His numbers fare even better when considering his displays in the Europa League, in which he averaged 1.8 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per match.
To put that into context, both his tackling and interception numbers are significantly better than pretty much all of Newcastle’s centre-backs this season in the Premier League, with only Fabian Schar averaging slightly more interceptions at just 1.4 per game.
Given that AC Milan still appear to be in pole position in the race to sign Botman, Newcastle could certainly do a lot worse than going after Szalai this summer.
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