Everton fighting Napoli to sign Belgium star Axel Witsel

Axel Witsel, centrocampista del Belgio e dello Zenit (foto getty)
Image: Everton are interested in signing Axel Witsel from Zenit St Petersburg

Everton and Napoli are fighting to sign Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel from Zenit St Petersburg, according to the player's father.

The 27-year-old, who has 71 caps for his country, is expected to end a four-year spell in Russia this summer and has been of significant interest to clubs in Italy for successive transfer windows.

Thierry Witsel, Axel's father, confirmed to Italian radio station CRC that he met with Napoli and they appear to be an attractive prospect to his son, but Everton have also registered "concrete" interest.

He said: "It's true I met with (Napoli sporting director) Cristiano Giuntoli in Brussels. It was a positive discussion and there could be interest by both parties, so we'll see how things evolve.

"Everton's interest is 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.

"Napoli is a great club. They had Maradona amongst their protagonists so they don't need to be praised.

Wales' Hal Robson-Kanu (left) and Belgium's Axel Witsel battle for the ball
Image: Axel Witsel played the full 90 minutes as Belgium were knocked out by Wales

"(Dries) Mertens spoke very highly of Napoli with Axel. He knows that going to Napoli would mean joining a big club and making a step forward in his career."

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Witsel began his career at Standard Liege, with whom he picked up his first Belgium cap at just 19 years old, before moving to Benfica for the 2011-12 season.

He signed for Zenit for £34m in 2012, signing a five-year contract, and thrived under former manager Andre Villas-Boas.

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