Premier League champions Chelsea FC and giants Manchester United are interested in signing Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel this summer from Russian Premier League side FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, according to media reports.
The Belgian who had joined the Russian Premier League side in 2012 has spent 3 years at the club. After winning the league title this season he had mentioned that he would like to leave the club this summer for a new challenge. Along with Premier League the two Premier league sides, Italian Serie A winners Juventus are also reportedly interested in the midfielder.
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is believed to be interested in roping in a central defensive midfielder who can play a holding role in the midfield area. Veteran midfielder Michael Carrick is the only proper holding midfielder in the team at the moment. During Carrick’s injuries, the Dutch manager used to field Daley Blind as a makeshift holding midfielder. Witsel’s signing will give Van Gaal and added an option in the squad and Carrick can be relieved of his duties. Axel Witsel played 28 league games this season for the Zenit and scored 4 goals. He completed 34 interceptions and provided 19 key passes. His stats clearly reflects his role of a holding midfielder who plays a pivotal role in front of the back line.
Similarly for Chelsea, Jose Mourinho would love to add the Belgian in his squad and increase the weight in the midfield. The current central midfield of Chelsea comprises of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic. Fabregas moved to Chelsea last summer and played a stellar role in the first half of the season and provided 19 assists in total. His performance though somewhat faded away in the latter stages of the season.
It will be an interesting three-way battle between Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester United for the signature of the Belgian midfielder this summer.