By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Everton’s £30million bid to sign Axel Witsel from Zenit St Petersburg has collapsed, according to a report.
Reliable Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio claimed on his website on Saturday morning that the Merseysiders had hit a stumbling block in their efforts to prise Witsel from Russia.
Di Marzio subsequently reported on Saturday afternoon that the deal had completely fallen through after talks had collapsed.
It is said that Napoli have upped their offer for the Belgium midfielder and he is closing in on a transfer to the Serie A club.
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.
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.
In other Everton news, Koeman is targeting a fellow Dutchman this summer.