This week on who wants to be an LFC central midfielder but probably won't, we have Zenit St. Petersburg's Axel Witsel, courtesy of Joe Rimmer at the Liverpool Echo. The phenomenally coiffed Belgian's contract with the perennial title contenders runs out next summer, and with doubts about the player's willingness to sign a new deal, the Russian club are looking to move him on. According to Tuttomercatoweb, the contract situation is rumoured to bring the asking price down from the €40m Zenit paid in 2012 to a more palatable €23m. Naturally, this has brought interest from other clubs, and besides facing competition from Premier League rivals Chelsea, Liverpool would have to contend with Serie A big guns, Napoli, Juventus and Inter Milan.
Witsel, currently gearing up for a quarter final showdown with Wales at the Euros, checks the boxes for central midfielder and tall, both of which have been recurring themes in Liverpool's transfer rumours this summer. While he has played in the single pivot defensive midfielder position for both club and country at times, he usually a spot in the double pivot, where he excels at winning and keeping possession with solid reading of the game, smart movement and precise passing. He is not a defensive destroyer, nor a box-to-box running machine, but more of a playmaking hub; he chips in with tackles, interceptions, goals and assists at a decent rate, but his game revolves mainly around circulating the ball.
Whether this is the midfield link that sticks is predictably unlikely, and it isn't clear that Witsel would be an immediate upgrade on Jordan Henderson in central midfield, nor that Emre Can doesn't have more upside. He'd certainly provide more quality and top level experience than Joe Allen, though, and picking up a veteran of 73 caps for one of the world's premier international sides at what must be considered a bargain fee is not something to turn your nose up at. Also, those eyes are just mesmerising.