Newcastle United have been named as one of the clubs who are interested in Fenerbahce defender, Attila Szalai, with the Hungary international having caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs.
According to Turkish outlet, Turkiye Gazetesi, the Magpies – as well as the likes of Leicester City, West Ham United and Serie A side Bologna – are believed to be keeping tabs on the 24-year-old, with the player said to be potentially keen on making a switch to England.
The report does suggest, however, that the 31-cap sensation – who still has just over three years left to run on his existing deal in Istanbul – is likely to favour a move away from his current side at the end of the season, as he hopes to bow out with a title triumph.
It may seemingly come as no surprise to learn that the Tynesiders are plotting potential additions to bolster the backline, with the centre-back ranks seemingly in need of increased depth, particularly amid the recent speculation that club captain Jamaal Lascelles could be allowed to depart.
Adding Szalai to Howe’s side could well prove to be something of a masterstoke as far as those at St James’ Park are concerned, with the “immense” defender – as described by writer Bence Bocsak – having notably earned comparisons to Liverpool colossus, Virgil van Dijk.
As per Bocsak, the towering titan has been dubbed the “Hungarian Van Dijk” due to his brilliance for both club and country, offering a real rock-sold presence much like the Dutchman as a result of his 6 foot 4 frame.
Much like the Anfield hero – who is just slightly taller at 6 foot 5 – Szalai offers more than just an imposing figure, however, as he notably ranks in the top 17% in Europe for progressive passes made as a sign of his strength on the ball, with Van Dijk also impressive in that regard as the 31-year-old ranks in the top 10% for the same metric.
It is no doubt a real promising sign to be compared to the latter man, with the former Southampton sensation – who made the move to Merseyside on a £75m deal back in January 2018 – having even been dubbed the “best centre-half of all time” by pundit, Michael Owen, after helping to guide Jurgen Klopp’s side to a string of major honours in recent years.
For Howe and co to potentially have their own version of the one-time Celtic ace truly is a mouthwatering prospect, with the hope being that Szalai can make a similar impact if he is make the move to the northeast in the near future.