By Coral Barry
Everton have a fight on their hands to convince Axel Witsel to move to Goodison Park because the midfielder wants to play Champions League football next season, according to a report.
The Belgium international has been identified as Ronald Koeman’s top target as the new Everton boss looks to begin his reign with a marquee signing.
However, the Mirror claim Koeman’s ambitious move for Witsel is being severely affected by the fact Everton cannot offer the 27-year-old Champions League football.
Witsel is believed to be ready to quit Zenit St Petersburg after four years at the Russian club, but is thought to be prioritising a move to a club that will play in the Champions League next season.
It is claimed that Roma and Napoli are closely monitoring Witsel’s situation and with both Serie A clubs in line to compete in the elite competition next season, Everton may be hard pressed to convince the defensive midfielder to snub their interest.
Witsel is entering the final year of his contract with Zenit, who paid somewhere in the region of £32million for his services in 2012.
Koeman was confirmed as Everton manager on Wednesday after weeks of negotiations between the Toffees and his former club Southampton.
The Dutchman is rumoured to have been handed a £100million transfer kitty by Everton and has been linked with a raid on his former club, as well as established internationals such as Witsel.
Witsel is currently on international duty with Belgium at Euro 2016, who lost their opening group game against an impressive Italian side on Monday night.
The midfielder scored six goals and provided five assists in 41 appearances for Zenit this season.
In other Everton news, the Toffees will go head to head with Chelsea for this Ligue 1 goalkeeper.