Chelsea v Burnley: Match in Pictures
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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel could be set to reap the rewards of engineering a move for Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai when the January transfer window rolls around. The Blues have reportedly been weighing up their options at centre-back ahead of the new year, with the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Jules Kounde also being linked with moves to Stamford Bridge in recent months.
Chelsea were keen on reinforcing their defensive ranks over the summer and made a full-blooded attempt to land Kounde from Sevilla.
The 22-year-old reportedly agreed personal terms with the Blues but the two clubs were unable to settle on a transfer fee, leaving any hopes of a move dead in the water.
However, the European champions are said to remain interested in Kounde and have been tipped to reignite their pursuit of his services in January.
De Ligt has also been mentioned in connection with Chelsea, with the Dutchman supposedly unhappy with his lack of game time at Juventus.
He is under contract until the summer of 2024 but has been linked with a handful of top sides, including the Blues ahead of the January window.
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Although Kounde and De Ligt would be two quality options for Chelsea to pursue in January, it seems as though Tuchel could get the best deal by chasing a move for Szalai.
A fee of £20million has already been agreed with Fenerbahce to bring the 23-year-old to west London in the new year, according to CNN Turk.
The 23-year-old has turned plenty of heads with his stunning performances in the Turkish club’s back three, which suggests that he will have no trouble in adapting to Chelsea’s style of play.
A move for his services would potentially represent a smarter investment than a big-money approach for De Ligt, who is more accustomed to playing in a back four.
Meanwhile, Kounde can also feature in a three-at-the-back formation but has been deployed in central defence as part of Sevilla’s 4-3-3 setup as of late.
Szalai is arguably better suited to Chelsea than the aforementioned duo thanks to his regular involvement in their preferred style at Fenerbahce.
The Hungary international has emerged as one of the club’s most important players since his £1.8m move from Apollon Limassol of Cyprus back in January.
He has already made 18 appearances in all competitions this season and still has plenty of room for additional growth and development, with his exciting future potential said to be a key factor in Chelsea’s desire to sign him.
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Szalai has also proven himself at international level since making his senior debut for Hungary as a fresh-faced 21-year-old back in 2019.
He has emerged as a mainstay in the side alongside the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai and featured heavily at Euro 2020 over the summer.
It remains to be seen whether Szalai will be successful at Chelsea if his proposed move to Stamford Bridge goes through when the transfer window reopens in January.
However, it seems as though he could serve as a viable long-term solution for the Blues in defence if they choose to overlook moves for De Ligt and Kounde at the turn of the year.
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