Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Barcelona Register Their Interest In This Talented Defender: What Will He Bring To The Nou Camp?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent tweet, renowned journalist Pedro Almeida stated that Barcelona have registered their interest in Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai. However, it has been revealed that the Turkish outfit’s high price demands could rule the Catalan giants out of the race to land the Hungarian centre-back.

Szalai’s Impressive Form In Turkish Football This Season

Szalai has been a rock at the back for Fenerbahce in this campaign and deserves credit for putting in a run of solid displays at the heart of their backline. The Hungarian defensive ace has been involved in 18 matches for his current employers this season, picking up two yellow cards in the process across multiple competitions.

The 23-year-old has proven his worth as a dominant defender by averaging 1.7 tackles, 1.6 interceptions, 3.3 clearances and 0.9 shots per game in the Turkish Super Lig. He has even been excellent when distributing possession from the back after making 78.2% of his attempted passes in the Turkish top-flight (stats via whoscored).

Barcelona (Attila Szalai)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – SEPTEMBER 8: Attila Szalai of Hungary warms up prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between Hungary and Andorra at Puskas Arena on September 8, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)
The 4th Official uses images provided by the following image agency: Getty Images (https://www.gettyimages.de/)
Imago Images (https://www.imago-images.de/)

What Will Szalai Bring To Barcelona?

Szalai can use his powerful 1.92m frame to dominate the aerial battle with the opposition and can time his tackles well to secure possession back on the defensive end of the field. He usually clears his lines when in danger of being exposed at the back. The Hungarian centre-half also doesn’t shy away from putting his body on the line to block a goal-bound shot when needed.

An up-and-coming defender of Szalai’s skill set would be a massive coup for Barca as they are in dire need to add more quality to their squad. The Fenerbahce powerhouse could serve as an ideal, long-term replacement for Gerard Pique at the Nou Camp. He could even go on to form a fruitful defensive partnership with Oscar Mingueza and Eric Garcia at the Catalan club over the next few years.

We can expect Szalai to bring a lot of bite and steel to Xavi‘s defensive department but there are some concerns over whether the 21-time Hungary international can make a smooth transition to life in Spanish football. Still, the pros outweigh the cons of recruiting him, so Xavi should consider going all out to acquire his services in January or at the end of this campaign.

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