Everton are reportedly confident of winning the race to sign Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel after lodging a bid of £28.5million for the Zenit midfielder.
New Toffees boss Ronald Koeman is keen to re-structure his centre midfield at Goodison Park and is keen to team up Witsel with Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who he managed at Southampton.
Persuading United to sell Schneiderlin should prove easy enough, especially with United so keen to sign Paul Pogba, but Koeman must fight off competition from Napoli to sign Witsel, while Stoke also have a long-standing interest in the 27-year-old, having tried to sign him in the January window.
Witsel is keen to leave Russia and has attracted plenty of interest after a productive European Championship campaign in which he scored against the Republic of Ireland.
Witsel’s father Thomas revealed recently that the move looks like being a straight choice between Everton and Napoli.
Witsel Snr said: “It’s true I met with (Napoli sporting director) Cristiano Giuntoli in Brussels. It was a positive discussion.
“Everton’s interest is concrete, like Napoli’s, so the negotiation is ongoing. To see if the marriage happens we have to see the conditions and understand what is the best destination for the player.”
A transfer to Goodison would end a four-year spell at Zenit for Witsel who joined the club for £34million in 2012.