Liverpool set to clash with Everton over Belgium's Axel Witsel
Liverpool are poised to clash with Everton as the two Merseyside clubs compete for Axel Witsel’s signature.
After losing out on their first-choice target Gregorz Krychowiak, Jurgen Klopp’s side have now reportedly turned their attention to Zenit St Petersburg’s Witsel, according to the Mirror.
The Belgium international, who suffered defeat at the hands of the Welsh in their Euro 2016 quarter-final clash, had originally only been linked to Goodison Park and Napoli.
Indeed, Witsel’s father, Thierry Witsel, had publicly stated that Everton’s interest in the midfielder was “concrete”.
Speaking to an Italian radio station, he also remarked that the Toffees were in a two-horse race with Napoli to sign his son.
“It’s true I met with Cristiano Giuntoli [Napoli's sporting director] in Brussels,” he said.
“Everton’s interest is [also] concrete, like Napoli’s, so the negotiation is ongoing, and to see if the marriage happens we have to see the conditions and understand what is the best destination for the player.”
But with Liverpool now moving into the fray, Everton face even more of a challenge to sign the Belgian international.
Everton haven’t focused all their efforts on Witsel, however. New boss Ronald Koeman is believed to be keen on Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin who struggled with his first season at Old Trafford.
Liverpool’s move for Witsel marks the club’s latest attempt to bolster their midfield options.
Whether or not they will be able to snatch Witsel away from under Everton's noses remains to be seen. Either way, both sides should be prepared to meet a high asking price – the player moved to Zenit St Petersburg in 2012 from Benefica for €40m and could fetch a similar fee now.
Independent News Service