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Highly sought-after midfielder to see out current contract

Turned down by Juve, Witsel will stay at Zenit

FC Zenit St Petersburg v FC Lokomotiv Moscow - Russian Premier League
Smile for the camera, Axel
Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images

Depending on who you ask and what you read, there at least half a dozen clubs looking to sign Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel - Everton, Liverpool, Juventus, AS Roma, Inter Milan, AC Milan, etc. The pivot position has been in such demand over this summer’s transfer season that even a mediocre showing at the Euro 2016 has not dropped Witsel’s stock in the market.

By all accounts, the player had been holding out for a move to Juventus after Paul Pogba finally completed his will-he-won’t-he move to Manchester United. But it appears the Italian club rejected his advances, and despite his current club Zenit St. Petersburg agreeing to terms with just about every club that picked up the phone and was able to complete a call to Russia, he will now stay and see out the one year left on his contract.

In an interview with Russian media source R Sport, the player seemed to conclude that he will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, though do not rule out Zenit trying to sell the player in January should they be out of the running in Europe and recouping some of the cost.

“News about my transfer were published everywhere, but I think it would be best for me now if I stayed here another year. After that, we'll see.

"Now I am 100 per cent focused on my training and matches, and on Zenit.

"Whether I'll stay beyond the expiry date of my contract? I do not know. Still, never say never. Today, I am fully focused on the current season, I want to give everything I've got, and as for what will happen next, we'll wait and see."

When asked if he would prefer England over Italy, he continued -

"I really do not have any preferences. It won't make much of a difference if I'm at one of the top clubs in England or in Italy, because it is the elite.

"I have no problems playing here. In winter it's cold in Belgium too. I've already played in my country at times when the street was minus 14. So that's all right.

"I think St. Petersburg one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I really like to live here."

It does look like the player had his heart set on a move to Juventus, and with the club not being interested, he has spurned everyone else. Fair enough, as Everton shouldn’t splash a boatload of cash on a player who doesn’t quite want to be at Goodison and would be constant rumour-mill fodder every transfer window like his wantaway compatriot, Romelu Lukaku.