The central midfielder was thought to be close to signing for Italian giants AC Milan after Juventus interest cooled, but Premier League champions Chelsea FC could intervene and hijack the deal to bring the Belgian to Stamford Bridge
The 26-year-old Zenit St.Petersburg midfielder has confirmed that he is keen to secure a move away from the Russian league this summer, and has been linked to a host of top clubs – particularly in the Serie A. A move to AC Milan was thought to be completed, but it appears that the Belgian is still up for grabs, with Chelsea FC reportedly re-entering the race for his signature.
Blues owner to be personally involved in the negotiations
Chelsea FC interest in Axel Witsel appeared to have cooled after reports of the Blues’ interest died down over the past month, but there are fresh reports in the Belgian media indicating that the London club have still not given up on the midfielder.
According to Belgian media outlet RTBF, Blues owner Roman Abramovich could personally travel to St.Petersburg to negotiate the transfer of Witsel with Zenit owner and compatriot Alexander Dyukov Valeryevich.
The report claims that although AC Milan are still very much in the hunt, Chelsea FC could swoop in, reportedly helped by the good relations between Blues manager Jos Mourinho and Italian agent Lucien D’Onofrio, who has reportedly long been an advisor to Witsel.
The fact that Witsel’s agent is Jorge Mendes cannot hurt Mourinho’s chances to land the Belgian either, with the super-agent understood to be very close to the Portuguese manager.
‘Witsel an interesting player, but not a priority’
The report from RTBF has not – as yet – been corroborated by any other sources, however, and with Chelsea FC seemingly refusing to sell Nigerian international John Obi Mikel, there is unlikely to be a place in the squad for Witsel.
The reliable London-based Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur suggested via his personal Twitter account that although the Blues thought of Witsel as an ‘interesting player’, he was not seen as a priority signing.
Zenit want A?28m for Axel Witsel. Player has an agreement with Juventus, but he can only join the club if Paul Pogba or Arturo Vidal leave.
a Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) July 15, 2015
Chelsea sources always stated: he is an interesting player, but not a priority right now. His agent is called … Jorge Mendes. a Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) July 15, 2015
That makes a degree of sense, particularly taking into account the emergence of teenager Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will be hoping to play a bigger role as the Blues look to defend their Premier League crown next season.
An exciting prospect, but transfer to Chelsea FC unlikely
Blues fans who have watched Witsel play are understandably excited by the prospect of signing the Belgian, who could form a formidable partnership with Serbian enforcer Nemanja Mati , particularly in the bigger games in the Champions League.
A player with the physicality, athleticism and technical ability of Witsel is just what the Blues need to further strengthen the squad, but that is precisely the type of player Loftus-Cheek could go on to become if he fulfils his considerable potential and get the opportunity to showcase his talent at the club.
In addition, with Mikel and Ramires seemingly set to stay at the club, it appears extremely unlikely that the Blues will sign Witsel this summer. The report from RTBF appears speculative in any case, although if there is concrete interest, it is unlikely to remain a secret for too long.
Time will tell whether Mourinho really wants Witsel, but as things stand, the Serie A seems a more likely destination for the Belgian.