By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Everton are set to beat Chelsea to the signing of Belgium international Axel Witsel, according to a report.
Football website Squawka claim the Merseysiders have agreed a fee worth up to £30million with Zenit St Petersburg for Witsel.
It is said Everton are prepared to match the midfielder’s wage demands with a contract worth over £100,000-a-week.
It would be regarded as huge statement by the Toffees’ new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri if Everton are successful in making Witsel the first marquee signing of Ronald Koeman’s reign.
The new manager completed the capture of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg on Friday evening but the signing of Witsel is in a different league altogether.
The 27-year-old is currently with the Belgium team at Euro 2016 and is expected to start their quarter-final against Wales in Lille tonight.
Any transfer will have to wait until the tournament is over the Squawka report claims Everton are confident they will beat Chelsea to the signing of the player.
He has said he wants to leave Zenit this summer after joining the Russian club for £30million from Benfica in 2012.
“I want to try a new experience in a different league, a new challenge,” he told Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I hope to step up a level and play in a big European club.
“My future could be in Italy or in England. It doesn’t matter if I go to Serie A or the Premier League, as long as it’s a big club.”
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 the other Everton news, a Chinese consortium are targeting Toffees striker Romelu Lukaku.