Chelsea have made an “astronomical” offer to Fenerbahce for their defender Attila Szalai, with work also being done on personal terms, according to reports in Turkey.
Szalai emerged as a target for Chelsea earlier this month. They are well aware of the potential need to evolve their defence. Antonio Rudiger is out of contract at the end of the season and looks likely to leave. Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azplicueta are all also nearing the end of their terms.
There remains optimism that some will stay. All have had important roles to play under Thomas Tuchel. But they will need to find reinforcements if they lose some of those players next year.
With that in mind, they were already looking for a new centre-back in the summer. They tried to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla but could not agree over his asking price.
Ultimately, they entered the new season with largely the same options as those from the squad that won them the Champions League in the summer. In addition, Trevoh Chalobah has been emerging as a first-team player too and Malang Sarr has had a couple of opportunities.
But there is still a feeling that Chelsea could sign a new defender in the New Year. Tuchel has suggested that it may not be Kounde, as their plans are dynamic, but that doesn’t mean nobody will arrive.
Szalai is one of the newer targets on their radar. He was part of the Hungary squad for Euro 2020 after impressing since a January transfer at club level to Fenerbahce.
The Turkish side are set to make a tidy profit on the 23-year-old when the time comes to sell him. And that may be soon.
According to CNN Turk, Chelsea are “serious” about signing Szalai and have made an “astronomical” offer. Fenerbahce have been evaluating their proposal, worth €23.4m (about £20m).
The deal is now at the final stages, supposedly, and Chelsea have been able to explore personal terms with Szalai. They are willing to offer him a six-year contract that will put €4m per season in his pocket.
Chelsea beat Spanish competition for Szalai
In doing so, they appear to have beaten competition from Atletico Madrid. The Spanish champions were eyeing him as support for Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic.
Atletico were willing to pay €11m for him, the report claims, but Fenerbahce have been holding out for a €20m benchmark that Chelsea have now broken.
The Super Lig side would thus earn a fee worth more than 10 times the €2m they paid to sign Szalai from Cypriot club Apollon Limassol.
He has more than proven his worth since and would be aiming to justify the larger fee Chelsea would be spending were he to make the move to Stamford Bridge.
Expectations will be high for a player joining a side that has built their success upon a solid defence. Chelsea have only conceded four goals in the Premier League so far this season.
But the identities of the men in their back three could transform in the coming months unless they can agree some renewals.