According to Zenit Saint Petersburg manager Mircea Lucescu, midfielder Axel Witsel has asked to leave the club this summer, amid links with a number of European clubs.
The Belgian international represented his counter in this summer’s European Championships, and is keen for a move to get his club career back on track.
Everton leading the chase for Witsel’s signature
While all but confirming the club would allow Witsel to leave, manager Mircea Lucescu revealed that there was a big asking price for the midfielder. But Everton aren’t short of funds and could be coming into money should defender John Stones make the lucrative switch to Manchester City this summer. The Toffees aren’t the only side in bid for Witsel, however.
The Zenit manager added that two Italian clubs and one more Premier League are keen on the 27-year-old. Tottenham Hotspur were believed to be keen on the Belgian this summer, but their London rivals Chelsea were reportedly competing with Everton for Witsel’s signature. In Italy, Inter Milan and Juventus are the two Serie A clubs linked but the greater finances in the Premier League looks to be the telling factor.
Zenit’s struggles leading to Witsel becoming disillusioned
Manager Lucescu admitted Zenit had offered a new contract to Axel Witsel in an attempt to keep him at the Krestovsky Stadium for the 2016/17 season, but with how poorly the side performed last season, Witsel might be hard to pin down. “It won’t be easy,” said Lucescu when talking about the likelihood of Witsel renewing his contract, and it does appear the 27-year-old is seeking pastures anew for a variety of reasons.
Zenit Saint Petersburg missed out on the league title in 2015/16 and finished outside of the Champions League places. The Russian Premier League club are seemingly making a big change in their transfer policy too. No longer are they procuring expensive European talent but instead cashing in on their big-earners. Zenit sold chief attacker Hulk this summer, and let talented striker Salomon Rondon the previous year.
As a result, Witsel might feel the club are no longer going forward. And with Everton’s ambitions to get back into Europe, while being able to offer big money and job security for a number of years, it’s not hard to see why the former Standard Liege and Benfica man is considering a move. Zenit’s Axel Witsel is 1/2 to join Everton this summer, so could the coveted Belgian international be on his way to the Premier League?