Manchester United transfer news: Chelsea to battle for Belgian midfield star Axel Witsel

Witsel wants to leave Zenit St Petersburg after three years

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The Independent Football

Manchester United and Chelsea are both interested in Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel, according to reports.

The 26-year-old cost Zenit St Petersburg around £30million when they signed him from Benfica in 2012, but according to the Daily Mirror, he wants to leave for a bigger challenge after helping Andre Villas-Boas' team win the Russian title last season.

Juventus are also interested in the midfielder, report Gazzetta dello Sport, with midfield the futures of midfield trio Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal still unclear.

The beaten Champions League finalists have apparently opened talks with Witsel's representatives.

Louis van Gaal has been given another £150million to improve on last season's fourth-placed finish, especially given their reliance on ageing midfielder Michael Carrick, while Jose Mourinho continues to look for ways to upgrade his title winners, especially given last season's poor exit from the Champions League.

Witsel has previously admitted to being a United fan, and the club were linked with him when he was a teenager.