Arsenal transfer decision forces Aston Villa to join Newcastle United in summer race

Latest Aston Villa transfer news and rumours ahead of what Steven Gerrard may or may not do in the summer window.

Aston Villa have been linked with Fenerbahce’s Hungarian centre-back Attila Szalai as they examine possible defensive additions for the summer transfer window.

According to Turkish publication Fanatik, both Villa and Newcastle United have their sights on the 24-year-old 6ft4’ centre-back with 23 caps for his country.

Villa are reportedly sending scouts to attend Fenerbahce’s Istanbul derby with Galatasaray on Sunday to watch the defender in action but would have to potentially see off the Magpies to complete any deal, if the reported interest becomes concrete.

Szalai, who came through the youth ranks of the Vasas club in Budapest before Rapid Wien in Austria, impressed in the 1-1 draw with England at Wembley back last October, playing in the middle of a back three, and he also faced the Three Lions in the 0-4 defeat in September last year too.

Steven Gerrard is said to be examining different possible options to recruit to add to his defence for the next campaign, with Ezri Konsa being monitored by other Premier League sides, including notably Arsenal.

Should the former Brentford and England U21s player leave Villa Park then the Midlands-based outfit will need a replacement and Szalai will get the chance to impress the watching eyes this weekend in the big Super Lig Istanbul derby, the Intercontinental Derby, with Fenerbahce third in the Turkish top tier currently.

Since heading to Turkey in 2021, the central defender has established himself at the heart of the defence for the Yellow Canaries, making 62 appearances, and also being linked with a move to Chelsea previously. This season he has started 25 times, with four appearances from the bench, scoring once and assisting twice in Fenerbahce’s 31 league games. He has another four starts in the Europa League.

Meanwhile, Villa will also reportedly watch Danish defender Victor Nelsson in the same game, with the two-cap international another player on Gerrard’s watch list after a breakthrough at international level.

The 23-year-old Galatasaray centre-back has played all-but two of Gala’s league games this season (29 of 31) and will be another player hoping to stand out in Sunday’s Istanbul derby clash.