Chelsea aiming to beat Juventus and Everton to Axel Witsel's signing
Chelsea are set to battle it out with Juventus and Everton for the services of Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel.
Despite Antonio Conte’s appointment as their new manager, Chelsea are yet to pull off a marquee signing this summer. For what it is worth, they have been linked with moves for Radja Nainggolan and Leonardo Bonucci without a great deal of success.
After getting rejected by Nainggolan, the Blues are now in talks with another Belgian international Axel Witsel over a possible summer transfer to Stamford Bridge. The 27-year-old has been recently linked with a move to Everton, Juventus and Manchester United and is certain to quit his current employers, Zenit St Petersburg, this summer.
According to reports from Daily Mail, Chelsea are desperate to complete Witsel’s transfer amid fears of Nemanja Matic’s exit. Conte has expressed his concerns over the fragile nature of Chelsea’s midfield as he looks set to deploy a 3-5-2 formation in the upcoming season.
It was Conte’s eagerness to sign a combative midfielder which saw Chelsea push for Nainggolan’s transfer. The Blues saw two of their official bids knocked back by AS Roma which has forced the Stamford Bridge outfit to shift their interest towards Axel Witsel.
The Blues, however, face competition from Juventus, who look set to prepare for life after Paul Pogba, with the Frenchman linked with a move away from Turin to either Real Madrid, Manchester City or Manchester United. The Serie A champions see Witsel as an ideal replacement for Pogba and that too at a comparatively lesser transfer fee.
However, the Old Lady is not the only club in the queue to sign the combative midfielder, with Everton also said to be interested in signing the 27-year-old to shore up their midfield under new manager Ronald Koeman
Lack of Champions League a concern for Chelsea
One big hurdle in Chelsea’s wish to sign Witsel this summer is their European status especially considering the Belgian’s eagerness to play in Champions League next season.
According to Emanuele Cammaroto (head of Witsel’s public relations) the Belgium International wants to join a Champions League side. In an interview with Italian radio station Radio Kiss Kiss, Cammaroto said: "In England, Witsel's name has been linked with various teams, including particularly Everton, but, in this sense, the footballer has clearly stated that he wishes to play in the Champions League.”
This may come as a damning blow to Chelsea’s hopes of signing Witsel, but we have seen in the past how clubs have paid exorbitant sums of money to get a seemingly impossible deal done. And considering Witsel’s money backed move to Zenit back in 2012, who is to say that he will not choose money over football once again?