Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Aston Villa join Newcastle in battle for Hungarian ace whose style could clash with key man

Abdulkadir Omur against Attila Szalai

Aston Villa and Newcastle United are ready to watch centre-back target Attila Szalai in action during a hostile match, according to reports.

Szalai is due to play for Fenerbahce in their derby clash with Galatasaray on Sunday. The battle between the two clubs from Istanbul is one of the fiercest rivalries in the world. It will therefore be a tough occasion for any player and a test of character.

Ready to see how Szalai responds, according to Fanatik, will be Aston Villa and Newcastle. Both clubs will be sending scouts to monitor his performance, if as expected he plays.

Newcastle were mentioned as potential suitors for the Hungary international back in January. Ultimately, the only centre-back they signed during the winter window was Dan Burn, from Brighton.

However, they could be on the lookout for another central defender in the summer. It appears their interest in Szalai remains.

But now they could be rivalled by Aston Villa, who are newer suitors in the transfer battle.

It has recently been reported that Villa boss Steven Gerrard could want a new centre-back this summer. To facilitate a potential signing, he could even put Ezri Konsa up for sale, it has been claimed.

His priority target has been Joe Gomez from his former club Liverpool. Such a deal may be difficult, though, meaning it makes sense for Villa to consider alternatives.

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Szalai is now on their radar thanks to his impressive development with Fenerbahce. He joined them from Apollon Limassol in January 2021 and has made more than 50 appearances since.

Hungary used him in their Euro 2020 squad and he has cemented his place in their setup too. At club level, though, he could be ready to take the next step.

Asking price unclear for Szalai

Attila Szalai playing for Hungary

Fenerbahce paid less than £2m to sign him last year. Even though their current valuation is unknown, they will likely make a big profit by cashing in before the 2025 expiry date of his current contract.

The 24-year-old is a left-footed defender who stands at 1.92m tall. His imposing presence could be welcome in a Premier League defence.

Interestingly, Villa already have a left-footed centre-half, and it is none other than their captain, Tyrone Mings. Whether they would need another while he is there is questionable.

Newcastle, for their part, also have someone of that ilk, in the shape of recent signing Burn. Ciaran Clark also favours playing on that side.

Therefore, for balance, perhaps both clubs should be looking at right-sided centre-halves instead. But on the flipside, Szalai is a top talent they would not want to see thriving elsewhere in the league.

He does have suitors abroad too. La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and Serie A leaders AC Milan will also have representatives watching him on Sunday.

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