Serie A champions Juventus are reeling from the loss of midfielder Paul Pogba, while Premier League giants Chelsea are reportedly keen to sign a box-to-box midfielder to bolster their ranks. Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel, who has been linked with both clubs in the past, has recently confirmed that he will stay put at Zenit St.Petersburg this season.
Axel Witsel was one of the midfielders shortlisted by Juventus as a possible replacement for Paul Pogba, and I Bianconeri have recently made a €22 million bid for the Zenit St. Petersburg player. However, the 27-year-old midfielder, who was a regular feature for the Belgium national team at the European Championships, wants to see out his contract in Russia.
“The best choice for me is to stay at the Zenit for another year, then the future will be seen,” Witsel told Russian media, according to reputed Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.
“The time now is 100% focused on my team and the next challenges that await me with Zenit,” the midfielder continued. “If one day I had to leave Russia, I have no preference between the Premier League or Serie A , both championships are the football elite. Renewal? Now I do not think, I’m focused only on the current season and the games that lie ahead. “
Juventus are not the only major club interested in Witsel though, as Chelsea have also expressed an interest in him this summer after failing to land his compatriot Radja Nainggolan. The Blues have since gone on to sign N’golo Kante from Leicester City.
However, while Kante is an exceptional defensive midfielder, Witsel is more similar to the box-to-box midfielder that Antonio Conte prefers in the midfield. At Juventus, the Italian manager counted on Arturo Vidal to play this role and this is one of the prime reasons why Chelsea were after Radja Nainggolan. The Belgian could prove to be just the man Conte needs, but it remains to be seen if they revive their interest in the next transfer window.
The Belgian midfielder’s contract at Zenit expires next summer and he has already stated earlier this year that he would like to move to a bigger league. This would make him a very coveted free agent next summer, with other Serie A and Premier League clubs like Napoli and Everton also rumoured to be chasing his signature.