Newcastle want to sign a defender over Van Dijk, Chelsea transfer seems unlikely

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Newcastle United’s search for a centre-back has now taken them to Turkey, with Fenerbahce star Attila Szalai now wanted by the Magpies.

This is according to Sky Sports, who claim Szalai suddenly finds himself wanted in the middle of the January transfer window.

Newcastle are not alone in the pursuit of Szalai, with West Ham United and AC Milan also keen.

Szalai’s Fenerbahce contract runs until 2025 but they are reportedly ready to sell for around 20m euros (£16.7m).

That’s a lot cheaper than Sven Botman and Benoit Badiashile, the other left-footed centre-backs Newcastle have chased.


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Szalai, 23, has already walked a path few have taken.

After starting out with Vasas in his native Hungary, Szalai moved to Austria with Rapid Wien in 2012.

Szalai returned home to Hungary in 2017, then traveled to Cyprus with Apollon Limassol two years later.

Fenerbahce surged to land Szalai in January 2021, and it has grown rapidly since, even to be called the ‘Hungarian Virgil van Dijk’.

Now a star in Turkey and with the Hungarian national team, Szalai is big, strong and a superb passer, providing exactly what Eddie Howe is looking for.

Szalai might not be as big a name as Botman or Badiashile, but he has huge potential going forward and fits into Newcastle’s budget.

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West Ham are a major threat, however, with David Moyes also keen to add a left-footed centre-back.

Angelo Ogbonna is out injured for the rest of the season and is on the wrong side of 30 anyway, meaning West Ham could be looking to sign his heir.

It could be Szalai, who could still find himself in the Premier League despite an alleged move from Chelsea which doesn’t seem to materialize.

Hungary boss Marco Rossi has boldly claimed that Szalai to Chelsea was a ‘done deal’, but that move appears to have gone cold.

Newcastle and West Ham are now positioning themselves to try and sign Szalai in what could be a bargain.

Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Agence BSR/Getty Images

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