Fenerbahce have denied that Hungarian defender Attila Szalai is close to joining Chelsea after his national team manager suggested a deal was all but done.
Reports emerged in Turkey in November linking the Blues with a £20m move for the centre-back, although that speculation had gone quiet until Hungary boss Marco Rossi referenced it earlier this week.
When asked which of his players he felt would do well in Serie A, Rossi responded: “It’s hard to name just one player, but right now I see very well Attila Szalai, who plays for Fenerbahce, but I think he is joining Chelsea.
“Clearly, he has been followed by important clubs in Spain, but apparently his move to Chelsea is a done deal. It would be a great player also for Italian football.”
However, the 23-year-old’s current employers Fenerbahce have perhaps unsurprisingly taken exception to the comments, moving to rubbish them in a statement.
“The allegations regarding the transfer of our player Attila Szalai, which have been made public in the last few days, based on foreign press and social media, do not reflect the truth,” it read, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“Our club has not made any transfer negotiations regarding our successful football player Attila Szalai. Our player continues his work completely concentrating on the goals of our team. We present it to the public.”
Chelsea will likely have to pursue a new centre-back in the near future. The club is resigned to losing Antonio Rüdiger on a free transfer in 2022 with talks over a new contract at an impasse, although Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Sevilla’s Jules Koundé are higher on their shopping list.
Szalai is held in very high regard by those who work with him and has been tipped for a big move for a while now. Compared to Virgil van Dijk, Szalai – who cites Thiago Silva as his idol – has impressed for both club and country and has been linked with the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid.