Zenit St Petersburg attacking midfielder Axel Witsel, who plays alongside Marouane Fellaini for the national side, has hinted that he would like to play in the ‘crazy’ Premier League.
Axel Witsel, the Belgium attacking midfielder who surprised Europe’s major clubs by deciding to join Zenit St Petersburg from Benfica in 2012, has spoken of his desire to play for Manchester United in the future. Witsel was the subject of the highest transfer fee ever paid for a Belgian footballer when he left Lisbon three years ago in the summer that Zenit went on a remarkable Portuguese pending spree, paying £34 million for him and £35.5 million for Porto’s Hulk.
The 26-year-old, who won the Belgian Golden Shoe, the country’s player of the year award, in 2008, the year he won the first of back-to-back Jupiler Pro League titles with Standard Liege, told Bleacher Report: ” I have always liked Manchester United from when I was young.”
“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 league’s in the world, for me, together with Germany and Spain.”
“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.”
Witsel, who has scored six goals in 54 appearances for Belgium, had been a target for Chelsea after their Champions League victory in 2012 but Roberto Di Matteo opted instead to sign Eden Hazard, and four years earlier he was regularly watched by Middlesbrough and Manchester City scouts.
Witsel, who is enjoying a mid-season break with his Zenit St. Petersburg team-mates in Doha, has been linked with a move to Arsenal and AC Milan in recent days.”No, these rumours are in the newspapers,’ Witsel added.”I don’t know anything about it. I am here in Qatar training to be focused on my team Zenit and to try to regain a good physical condition. Even during the holidays I did not think about leaving, I am focused.”
In December 2014, following elimination from the Champions League, Russian press reports said that Zenit were ready to sell their quartet of expensive and highly-paid imports, Witsel, Hulk, Ezequiel Garay and Javi García but there has been no movement so far. United boss Louis van Gaal is keen to bring new midfield talent to Old Trafford, with the likes of Kevin Strootman, Nigel de Jong and Ilkay Gundogan all mooted as possible targets.