Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has flown to Russia to hold talks with Zenit St.Petersburg over a potential deal for midfielder Axel Witsel according to reports.
The former Benfica man is said to have an agreement in place with Juventus but will only complete a move to Turin if either Arturo Vidal or Paul Pogba leave, which appears unlikely for the time being.
That has opened the door for Chelsea to make their move and try and land Witsel, with the Blues seemingly conceding defeat in their pursuit of Pogba for the current transfer window at least.
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Belgian source RTBF claim that Abramovich has taken the unusual step of negotiating the transfer himself rather than letting chairman Bruce Buck or directors Eugene Tenenbaum, Marina Granovskaia seal the deal.
That is because the Russian shares a close relationship with Zenit owner Alexander Dyukov. The fact that Witsel's agent is Jorge Mendes who also represents Jose Mourinho is likely to help facilitate any potential transfer too.
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Chelsea have been uncharacteristically quiet in the transfer window so far. They have wrapped up a loan move for Radamel Falcao from Monaco and secured Asmir Begovic as a back-up for Thibaut Courtois, however a big-name signing has so far alluded them.
That could be because Pogba, who has also been linked with Manchester City and Barcelona, looks set to remain with Juventus at least for the new season.
The main obstacle is Juventus' desire to keep the highly-rated Frenchman at all costs, and their asking price certainly reflects that. The Italian champions want €100 million to let him go, which none of his suitors are ready to pay at the moment, although that could change when Barcelona's transfer ban is lifted.
Witsel is an interesting player. If he were to join Chelsea he'd be battling Nemanja Matic for a starting spot, which is an unenviable position to be in. The Blues don't really need another body in that position but could do with improving their 'link' midfielder, a role which is currently fulfilled by Ramires.
According to reports Chelsea's interest is only lukewarm at the moment and they aren't pushing to get the deal done as soon as possible. It could be they seem him as a good squad player who could replace Jon Obi-Mikel who seems set to leave.