Axel Witsel is set to leave Dortmund after spending four years at the club, and his exit could provide Steven Gerrard with a bargain fix at Aston Villa, per a report.
Witsel has enjoyed a stellar career to date, plying his trade in Belgium, Portugal, Russia, China and Germany. However, he has never tested himself in the cauldron of the Premier League.
The midfielder remains a regular in the Belgium national team. During his time on the international stage he has formed solid partnerships with the likes of Radja Nainggolan and former Tottenham favourite Moussa Dembele.
Whilst playing for Dortmund domestically, however, Witsel has also recently formed a partnership with England wonderkid, Jude Bellingham.
The defensive midfielder has amassed an average rating of 6.63 this season according to WhoScored. On paper, that doesn’t seem remarkable. It is, however, the sort of rating you would expect a player of high quality to garner over a full season.
Aston Villa have been consistently linked with signing a defensive-midfielder throughout the season. Marvelous Nakamba’s knee injury left Gerrard’s side short in the engine room.
According to recent reports, Douglas Luiz may also force a move away from the Villans this summer. That’s despite the fact he has been pivotal in filling in the gap left by Nakamba.
Witsel could be a solid and experienced option for Villa to fill the potential vacancy. What’s more, he would enable them to invest heavily elsewhere with their other midfield targets – Kalvin Phillips and Yves Vissouma – commanding significant fees.
Villa were linked with Witsel last summer, though Dortmund’s assistant manager poured scorn on that rumour at the time.
“It‘s obvious nonsense,” Maric wrote on his Twitter account last August. “Can‘t understand how some people are pretending it‘s not just to make a headline.”
But nearly a year later and with Witsel now available for free, Villa have a chance to snap up a seasoned pro if there was ever any truth to their interest.
Witsel confirms Dortmund exit
Witsel has had his say on his time at Dortmund and admitted he is “sad to be leaving the club.”
“I’m very happy to have spent four years here playing at the highest level,” Witsel told German publication WAZ.
“But I am sad to be leaving the club, I have many friends and great teammates here.
“I was here for four years, that’s a lot. But in the end, that’s the life of a footballer. I’m looking forward to the last game, but I’ll also be very sad.”
Witsel has appeared 46 times in all competitions over the course of the season. That showcases his reliability and ability to stay fit which is an asset frequently overlooked when signing major names.