West Ham United are believed to be considering a move for Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai, with manager David Moyes eyeing up a new defensive recruit.
According to Sky Sports Germany, the Hammers have turned their attention towards the Hungary international this summer, with uncertainty mounting over their ability to convince Paris Saint-Germain defender Thilo Kehrer to join the club.
The report suggests that the latter man’s preference is to stay in France at present, while the east Londoners are also seemingly unwilling to pay the required €20m fee for the German’s services, with just a year remaining on his existing deal at the Parc des Princes.
That fact has seen Szalai – who only made the move to Turkey 18 months ago – emerge as a potential alternative for those at the London Stadium, with further defensive cover needed following the long-term injury to summer signing, Nayef Aguerd.
A left-footed centre-back standing at an impressive 6 foot 4, Szalai would appear to be the ideal heir to that of current West Ham man Angelo Ogbonna, with the veteran Italian likely to be approaching the end of his time at the club sooner rather than later.
The 34-year-old, 6 foot 3 brute – who is also left-footed – has been a sparkling performer for the London Stadium outfit since joining from Juventus back in 2015, racking up 200 appearances for the club in all competitions thus far.
A hugely reliably figure for the Irons, particularly under Moyes in recent years, the one-time Torino man was notably lauded by teammate Declan Rice back in 2020, with the Englishman stating that: “He’s so good. Honestly, he’s gone to another level this season. He looks like a real top, top centre-half and he’s stepped up when it’s really mattered.”
His fine form was cruelly disrupted by a long-term injury last season, however, with the £1.08m-rated man eventually missing the majority of the campaign, while he is still yet to fully recover despite the season having already got underway.
Having reportedly signed a new one-year extension the likelihood is that the 13-cap gem will be at the club until next summer at least, although the feeling is that a younger replacement could well be needed, particularly with it unclear if he will be able to recover his previous form after such an extended period out of action.
An imposing presence, the “exemplary” 24-year-old, as described by Emre Belözoğlu, also mirrors Ogbonna in his ability to also feature on the left of a back three – as he notably did in the 4-0 thrashing of England back in June – while he can also slot in at left-back if required.
That versatility would surely see him become a real key figure under Moyes, both this season and beyond, with the £10.8m-rated man seemingly the perfect fit to step into Ogbonna’s shoes.