Belgian international Axel Witsel has revealed that he has aspirations of one day playing in the Premier League, and hinted that it could be Manchester United who benefit.
The 26-year-old midfielder signed for Zenit St. Petersburg from Benfica in 2012, and has since continued to add to a reputation that had already seen some of Europe’s biggest clubs enquiring after his services.
Having been a pivotal figure in Marc Wilmot’s Belgium side during the 2014 World Cup, there was measured speculation over where his future might lie, but the player himself has insisted that he has plenty of time to realise other ambitions.
"I want to play in one of the top clubs in Europe one day. It’s true that I like the Premier League, because it is one of the best league’s in the world, for me, together with Germany and Spain. It is a very good league, it is a crazy league," he told Bleacher Report.
"A lot of my colleagues play there, but we will see. I am still young, only 26. We‘ll see in the future. I have always liked Manchester United from when I was young."
"We‘ll see in the future. I have always liked Manchester United from when I was young"
Of course Witsel’s quotes may not be received too kindly by Arsenal fans, as the player has professed in the past to being a Gunners follower himself. Nevertheless judging from his words it would seem he’s more interested in joining United, which could well interest Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal's expenditure
The Dutchman has spent plenty of money since taking over the reigns at Old Trafford - there was a £150 million plus outlay in the summer months - but the side need more improvement if they are to be able to launch a sustained challenge against the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.
One of the areas Van Gaal has been tipped to improve is the centre of midfield, with Darren Fletcher facing an uncertain future and questions having been asked of both Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera at times this season.
Though Witsel’s purchase might not be as needed as the acquisition of a top-class centre-half he still would represent a smart investment, and the capture of a World Cup talent would certainly go down well with the fans.
Given the lack of rumours abound it can be assumed that the 26-year-old won’t be moving to England during this transfer window, and with his contract at Zenit not set to expire until 2017 Andre Villas-Boas is under no direct pressure to sell.
That means that if and when teams do go in for him - be it this summer or next - his club will be able to command a relatively high fee. That in itself might be enough to put Van Gaal out the hunt.