Well, folks, it looks as though we can cross one of the names off the list when it comes to potential Paul Pogba replacements.
In an interview with Rsport.ru, Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel has revealed that he plans on staying with Zenit St. Petersburg despite the fact that he is set to become a free agent come the conclusion of this season. All of those transfer rumors and front-page headlines linking Juventus with a move for Witsel now seem like a moot point considering he has gone out of his way to declare that he’s going to stay in Russia for at least another season.
"News about my transfer were published everywhere. But I think it would be best for me now if I stayed here another year. After that, we'll see.
"Now I am 100 percent focused on my training and matches, and on Zenit.
"Whether I'll stay beyond the expiry date of my contract? I do not know. Still, never say never. Today, I am fully focused on the current season, I want to give everything I've got, and as for what will happen next, we'll wait and see."
While he’s always been a rumored target of Juventus, a potential Witsel acquisition had been turned up a notch or two on the rumor-o-meter with Pogba’s departure earlier this week. Along with Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, the Italian press had been giving the indication that Witsel was one of the top names that Juventus wanted to bring to Turin before the transfer window comes to a close later this month.
So much for that now.
Witsel has been linked to other clubs in both Italy and England, too, but his potential arrival in Turin made quite a bit of sense with the newfound void for a quality central midfielder. No matter what the media will say over the next day or two, who knows how close Juventus even got to making a bid to sign the 27-year-old Witsel, who has a year left on his current contract with Zenit.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.