Belgian football is undergoing somewhat of a revival, with Standard Liege leading the wayÂ in uncovering and nurturing fresh talent that the big fish of European football then swarm around, looking to capture. Already the Belgium champions have seen Everton pay out Â£15m for Marouane Fellaini, and while Steven Defour is attracting a host of attention, the third cog in last season’s midfield, Axel Witsel, is now also the subject of transfer speculation.
Witsel’s availability was made public last week, with the 19-year-old announcing “I have dreamt about playing for a big club since I was a kid and my love for Arsenal goes back a long way. I’d love to play in a more classy league.” This come-get-me plea has since reportedly been picked up by several of the Premier League clubs, with Gary Megson said to be mulling over a Â£6m bid for the talented midfielder.
The likelihood of a move to the Emirates seems to be more about Witsel’s desires as opposed to Arsenal’s needs, as the midfielder, who often plays in the centre of the park with the responsibility of being a creative and attacking influence, would appear surplus to requirementsÂ in a team with Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott, Denilson, Rosicky and Ramsey already on their books.
Bolton, on the other hand, are desperate for some fresh blood in the middle of their side having scored just 10 goals in 11 Premier League matches. And with Kevin Nolan (without a league goal so far) proving to be a shrinking violent this season, the Trotters need reinforcements through the middle as they prepare for the difficult relegation battle ahead.
Witsel, Belgium’s young player of the year winner for last season, has already made seven international appearances for Belgium, crowning his debut against Morocco with a goal. Able to play across the midfield, Witsel appears to be improving his predatory instincts this season, having found the back of the net three times in 14 appearances so far this term.
Wearing number 28, video evidence of Axel Witsel can be seen here.