Man Utd and Man City to do battle over Champions League star
Axel Witsel’s superlative displays for Benfica this season appear not to have gone unnoticed, as Manchester United, Man City, and Chelsea are all now reportedly coveting the Belgian playmaker’s signature.
Witsel, who only moved to Portugal in the summer, has made a tremendous impression during Benfica’s charge to the Champions League semi-final, and his value has rocketed from the €8million fee his employers paid to Standard Liege.
In fact, his current employers are said to have rejected a bid in excess of €20million over the past week from an unnamed club, and so a hefty fee would certainly be required to test Benfica’s resolve.
That, however, would not appear to be a major problem for clubs of the stature of those linked with the player, even if reports of a €35million valuation of Witsel are accurate.
Manchester United’s interest is believed to be the most serious, having monitored the 23-year-old prior to his move to Benfica, but Sir Alex Ferguson was keen to gauge how he would perform outside of the confines of the Belgian league, where he excelled for Standard.
Now, having proved his worth in the more competitive Portuguese Primeira Liga, as well as turning in some sterling performances in Europe’s elite competition, Witsel may have done enough to convince Ferguson that he could be the long-term successor to Paul Scholes.
That said, Manchester City would undoubtedly have the upper hand financially in a war to claim Witsel’s signature, and the Belgian international could be tempted by an Eastlands switch should Roberto Mancini wish to further bolster his midfield ranks.
Chelsea too are looking to rebuild an ageing squad, and at his relatively young age, Witsel would fit the bill as an exciting prospect, yet one with the required experience to slot straight into the Blues’ team.
His next move remains to be seen, but there looks to be no lack of potential suitors for the highly-rated playmaker.