Axel Witsel has opened the door to a Premier League switch this summer after telling media he wants to leave Zenit St. Petersburg and move to a bigger league.
The 27-year-old has been linked with a move to England for the majority of his career but never has a link developed into anything more substantial. With the player now willing to get out of Russia, this could be the summer he finally makes the switch.
Tottenham and Chelsea appear to be the favourites to sign the talented Belgian, but the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United have also been linked.
“I still have a contract for one more year come June and the club know how I feel. I would like to play in a bigger league,” Witsel told La Derniere Heure.
“I cannot say that I will 100 percent leave, but we have not held talks over a new deal and my intention is to leave this summer. I want to focus on finishing the season on a high, then there’s the Euros and then we will see what happens.
“I spoke to a number of clubs last summer, but it was not about money for Zenit. They wanted to keep me because of the Champions League and there was no time to sign a replacement. “When a player has just one year left on his contract, a club cannot demand too much money. I don’t think Zenit will be asking €40 million for me.
Maybe he won’t cost a team €40million, but he is still likely to demand a fee in excess of £25million – not a small amount of money. So does Witsel have what it takes to play in the starting eleven for Chelsea or Tottenham? We take a look at how he compares to Nemanja Matic and Eric Dier using the Squawka website.
Although Witsel would more than likely play in a central midfield role, these stats show he is clearly more of an attacking minded player than both Matic and Dier. Despite this, his aerial duels won (2.42 per game) and total duels won of 54.46% are very impressive, and show he is capable of playing a deeper, more destructive role. He might not win as many tackles or interceptions as you would like from a deep central player, so it might be best to deploy him alongside a Matic or Dier, who excel in those areas. His key passes and pass completion rates highlight the Belgian’s creative instincts, although as always with stats, it is important to put them into context. Playing in a far worse league, Witsel’s stats could be warped. Not only will it be easier for him to create chances but also he may not be required to make as many tackles.
It is possible that Witsel could also join Manchester United. Looking at those five areas, Herrera only edges Witsel in key passes (1.07) and interceptions (2.35).
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