Chelsea are the favourites to sign Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel after new Blues manager Antonio Conte stepped in the race to hijack Everton’s anticipated bid for the Belgian star.
Witsel has been under the radar of top European clubs, with the likes of Everton, Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli. However, Foottheball sources confirm that Chelsea have marched way ahead in the race for the 27-year-old Belgian playmaker, as Antonio looks desperate to bolster his midfield before his debut Premier League campaign at Stamford Bridge this summer.
According to recent rumours, Chelsea club officials have held talks with Witsel’s representatives and are confident of bagging the deal as they wait to agree on the fee with his present club Zenit St Petersburg.
The 27-year-old midfielder had joined the Russian club Zenit in 2012 for £32m. The Russian club was flooded with offers for Belgium midfielder Witsel in the last transfer window but the club held on to their star player as they had demanded a minimum fee of £50m.
Foottheball understands that the situation might be a bit different this time as Witsel has only one year remaining in his contract at Zenit. It is believed that the Russian club will agree to a much lesser fee this time around as they don’t want to lose their star on a free transfer.
Sources confirm that Witsel is keen on making a summer switch to Stamford Bride. This news comes in as a huge blow for new Everton manager Ronald Koeman who was confident that he had his man before Antonio Conte decided to join the race for the talented winger.
With Nemanja Matic nearing a move away from Chelsea this summer, it is expected that Witsel will receive a huge pay hike over a whooping £80k-a-week wage clause that he presently earns at Zenit.