Axel Witsel was in Turin last month for the second leg of Zenita s Europa League tie with Torino. If Juventus have their way then the Belgium international will return to the city this summer, on a permanent basis. Witsela s father confirmed that the player will leave Zenit and admitted Juventus are an option, but they havena t made any decisions.Sky Italia recently reported that Juventus have offered a 18 million for Axel Witsel. Although the figure is short of Zenita s asking price of a 30 million yet it is believed that Witsel is a priority signing for the Bianconeri this summer and negotiations will continue. His fathera s comments regarding the end of his cycle with the Russian champions only add fuel to the rumors although Juventus are not the only option as stated by Witsela s camp.
A winger in Belgium at first, later an attacking midfielder, Benficaa s manager, Jorge Jesus, decided to move him deeper, as a No6. A role made for him. He dictated the tempo and in a good Europa League campaign he proves he is ready for a step up. At the age of 26, Witsel is now a respected leader in the national team. A silent, inspiring, disciplined and hard-working force. His manager Marc Wilmots believes he is one of the five untouchables in the starting XI. He has all the qualities a modern midfielder needs: charisma, power, technique, vision, an excellent pass and he barely loses a ball.Witsel has five goals in 30 games across all competitions this season, including one against Benfica in the Champions League.
Sky Italia also reported Qatari club Al-Jaish have made an offer to take the Italian international Andrea Pirlo to the middle-East next year. Witsel can be seen as an ideal replacement for Pirlo although Claudio Marchisio has done brilliantly as a regista so far this season. Juve also took great encouragement from the player’s revelation that Andrea Pirlo is his role model.”Pirlo’s one of the best central midfielders in the world. He’s always been my reference point. A future together? We’ll see in the next transfer window…”
Witsel’s transformation into a more attacking, rounded midfielder has not gone unnoticed. AC Milan were heavily linked with the 26-year-old during the January transfer window, while Manchester United are also keen. Witsel himself revealed that he has been a fan of Manchester United since childhood. He told Bleacher Report in an interview, “I want to play in one of the top clubs in Europe one day. It’s true that I like the Premier League because it is one of the best leagues in the world, for me, together with Germany and Spain,a he added. “It is a very good league; it is a crazy league. A lot of my colleagues play there, but we will see. I am still young, only 26. We’ll see in the future. I have always liked Manchester United from when I was young.”
However, while Witsel has admitted that he was a Red Devils fan as a child, it is Juventus who are winning the race to sign him. Bianconeri sporting director Fabio Paratici has already met with an intermediary working on Witsel’s behalf, Luciano D’Onofrio, and the Italian champions were buoyed by the nature of those preliminary talks – he wants to leave Zenit and Turin is his preferred destination. There are still several obstacles to overcome, most notably the transfer fee, with Zenit under no pressure to sell and intent on recouping a significant chunk of the a 40m fee they paid to Benfica. However, the prevailing feeling is that Witsel wants to leave Zenit; that it is time to move on. Witsel is the contingency plan. Replacing Pirlo would be a daunting challenge for most players. But nothing fazes Witsel.