By Tom Blackburn

Chelsea have moved ahead of Everton and three Italian clubs in the race to sign Axel Witsel from Zenit St Petersburg, according to a report.

The Merseyside club have held talks with Zenit St Petersburg about a £30million deal for the midfielder as well as paying him a £100,000-a-week wage.

The Sun now claim that Chelsea are doing their best to hijack the Toffees deal for Belgium star Witsel and are close to agreeing terms with his agents.

Antonio Conte is said to have sanctioned a £28m bid for the midfield powerhouse Witsel, who, in turn, is very keen on a Stamford Bridge switch.

Witsel has also attracted strong interest from Serie A trio Inter Milan, Napoli and Juventus.

The Russian-based player was with the Belgium squad until last week, when they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Wales.

Witsel has said he wants to leave Zenit this summer after joining the Russian club for £30million from Benfica in 2012.

The Belgian central midfielder starred for the Russian outfit in the recently completed season as he made 41 appearances across all competitions and played a key role during Zenit’s European campaign where they made the round of 16.

Witsel has been an integral part of Belgium’s own “golden generation” since making his debut in 2008 and has featured in 72 encounters for his country.

In other Everton news, Toffees striker Romelu Lukaku is set to perform a dramatic U-turn and commit his future to the club.