By Coral Barry

Tottenham have been boosted in their pursuit of Axel Witsel after the player declared his intention to leave Zenit St Petersburg in the summer.

Witsel, 27, is entering into the final year of his contract with the Russian club and has told club chiefs he wants to move sooner rather than later.

Tottenham were willing to shell out as much as £17million for Witsel last September, but were rebuffed by Zenit.

Witsel was the subject of a failed bid by fellow Premier League club Stoke in January and has now explained his ambitions lie away from Russia.

“I cannot say that I will 100 per cent leave, but we have not held talks over a new deal and my intention is to leave this summer,” said Witsel to Belgium publication La Derniere Heure. “I still have a contract for one more year come June and the club know how I feel.

“I would like to play in a bigger league.”

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Zenit were unwilling to let Witsel leave at the start of the season with Champions League football high on the agenda and no viable replacement.

Witsel is currently on international duty with Belgium where he will meet up with current Tottenham players Moussa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Toby Alderweireld.

In other Tottenham transfer news, Spurs face a fight for a South American star.