By Alex Stephens

Zenit Saint Petersburg’s manager Mircea Lucescu has confirmed that Axel Witsel has asked to leave the club, according to a report.

Gianluca Di Marzio’s website has reported the latest saga in the potential transfer of the Zenit and Belgium midfielder.

The Russian Premier League kicked off today and Zenit Saint Petersburg drew 0-0 with Lokomotiv Moscow. Axel Witsel started on the bench but came on in the 59th minute.

It was reported that Zenit’s manager, Lucescu, spoke after the match to confirm the news.

“Axel wants to leave. He didn’t even want to play against Lokomotiv to avoid getting hurt, but I had to use him since we needed his experience.”

Everton and Juventus are the two teams that are currently battling for the Belgian’s signature, although the news could alert others.

Gianluca Di Marzio’s website claimed earlier on Saturday that the Italian giants had made a bid between £15million and £17million, and that the Russian club had rejected it.

This comes on the back of a report from The Mail that Everton had a bid of £25million accepted for Witsel.

Italian sports publication Tuttosport claimed that Witsel would prefer to sign for Juventus, who can offer the lure of Champions League football, than Everton.

Despite this news, Everton are still strong favourites to sign Witsel, with bookmakers SkyBet pricing them at 8/15, ahead of Juventus at 7/4 on Saturday night.

In other Everton transfer news, the Merseyside club is preparing a bid for this Euro 2016 hero as a replacement for John Stones.