By Tom Blackburn
Everton manager Ronald Koeman walked away from the deal for Axel Witsel in a search for value for money, according to a report.
Football Insider reported on Monday that Napoli were close to signing the midfielder for £25million on a four year deal.
The Liverpool Echo claim that Everton have not stopped wanting to sign the Belgian midfielder, but refuse to pay over the odds.
Ronald Koeman’s side had been hopeful that the 27-year-old would become their first marquee signing of what is shaping up to be a record-breaking spending spree this summer.
It was said that Everton would pay £30million for Witsel and Koeman even admitted to autograph hunters at then end of last week that there was a possibility that the Belgium international and Manchester United winger Juan Mata could sign for Everton.
But the Dutch manager has now been forced into a major U-turn and will have to turn his sights elsewhere for squad reinforcements this summer.
Witsel was with the Belgium national side up until last week when they were spectacularly knocked out by Wales in the quarter-finals.
The combative midfielder has already made it clear to his club that he wants to leave after four years in Russia and has now entered the final year of his Zenit contract.
Witsel impressed his suitors again this season, particularly in the Champions League as Zenit dominated their group and made it to the last-16.
The Belgian has 72 appearances for his country despite and his arrival would mark a significant beginning to Koeman’s reign as Everton boss.