Report: Everton dealt blow in bid to sign Belgium star Axel Witsel as Chelsea join race

Belgium's Axel Witsel scores their second goal

Chelsea are reportedly ready to challenge Everton for the signature of Axel Witsel.

Belgium's Axel Witsel scores their second goalBelgium's Axel Witsel scores their second goal against Ireland

According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea are plotting a move for Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel, handing Everton a major blow in their pursuit of the player.

Both teams are welcoming new manager this summer, as Everton swooped to land Ronald Koeman from Southampton earlier this month, whilst Antonio Conte will start his duties as Chelsea boss when Italy are knocked out of the European Championships.

Belgium's Axel Witsel celebrates after scoring their second goal

The two managers face big challenges as they look to turn around two of the most disappointing teams from last season, and thanks to backing from Farhad Moshiri and Roman Abramovich respectively, Koeman and Conte should have plenty of money to re-tool their squads.

Now though, it appears that they have set their sights on the same target. The Daily Mail report that whilst Everton want to bring Axel Witsel to Goodison Park, they now face competition from Chelsea and Conte.

Hungary's Akos Elek in action with Belgium's Axel Witsel

Zenit St. Petersburg star Witsel, 27, is currently starring for Belgium at Euro 2016, and he particularly impressed against the Republic of Ireland, scoring Belgium's second goal in a 3-0 thumping.

After almost four years in Russia, Witsel is now being targeted for a big-money move to England this summer, and with Chelsea struggling to sign his Belgium midfield partner Radja Nainggolan from Roma, it's believed that they have now turned their attention to Witsel.

Picture Supplied by Action Images

That's a blow for Everton, who had allegedly hoped to land the former Standard Liege and Benfica star, with Koeman keen to add a star midfielder this summer, given that Gareth Barry is now 35 and edging towards the end of his career.

Both teams could make huge bids for Witsel this summer, and whilst Everton could offer more first-team football than Chelsea - who already have Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas - a move to Stamford Bridge with international team-mates Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard could be tempting.

Do you think Witsel would choose Chelsea over Everton?

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