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Fellaini's midfield teammate available at €30m - Manchester United to renew interest?

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Manchester United were once linked with Axel Witsel, should they renew that interest considering his desire to leave Russia?

If you think Manchester United's midfield transfer woes began this summer, then you are certainly mistaken, for fans have been crying out to for new additions for several seasons.

Last summer they didn't sign any, and watched one player they were linked with signing secure a mega deal to Russia.

His name is Axel Witsel, a rock star name for a no nonsense midfielder once handed a long ban for stamping on an opponent and breaking his anjkle.

The Belgian midfielder is an international colleague of Marouane Fellaini, but is said to be keen on a January switch away from Zenit St Petersberg.

He signed there in September 2012 in a double deal with Hulk, himself switching from Benfica where he had caught the eye of United.

Witsel is more of a defensively minded midfielder than Fellaini, a no nonsense enforcer who at 24-years-old has a lot to give. More of a Nigel de Jong to Fellaini's Yaya Toure to borrow a comparison from City's title winning side of 2011/12.

He still scored four goals in 19 matches in the Russian Premier League last season, although is without any in eight games so far this campaign.

Witsel is claimed to be keen on a move away from Russia, expressing a desire to move to a stronger European League.

Russian newspaper Izvestia reports: "The transfer of the Belgian midfielder from Benfica in the summer of 2012 cost Zenit the amount of approximately € 40 million. Given the desire of the player to leave the team and move to a more classy and strong European championship, the management of the St. Petersburg club is ready to let go of Witsel for less money, but not for less than €30 million".

Rafa Benitez' Napoli are credited with an interest, but are said to be preparing an offer of €20 million, below Anzhi's asking price. A lot would depend on how far the player is prepared to go to force a move. In a World Cup year it is a dangerous balancing act.

So should Manchester United re-visit their interest in the player? The asking price is still a lot of money, but cash that the club clearly have to spend given their recent financial results.

Much depends on where David Moyes intends to strengthen next, but expecting Marouane Fellaini to solve their midfield problems alone is a big ask.

With Anderson contributing very little, replacing him with a solid defensive midfielder in Witsel could work, despite Fellaini's desire to blossom in the position. It would give Fellaini more license to move forward, and with defensive midfielder Darren Fletcher unlikely of being a reliable contributor, further supplementing their options with a top class player like Witsel can hardly go wrong.

It would provide United with a solid base from which their attacking players can flourish, although Moyes clearly sees left-back as a priority in terms of investment and there are still whispers about another striker too. Heading into January, if United are prepared to spend big on another midfielder, Witsel could be an attractive option.

Where do United need to strengthen? A midfielder still needed?

image: © mikehamm

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