Stoke made an offer of €15-16million for Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel, according to the Russian club.
It’s not clear whether the Potters made the offer during the January transfer window or previously last summer, but Zenit general director Maxim Mitrofanov claimed the Russian outfit did not take the offer further.
“There was an offer from the Stoke City. They offered about €15-16m. No other proposals took place. [Our] colleagues probably think we may ‘fail’ in summer.
“Witsel’s agents are dreaming of selling him somewhere but we will be happy if he continues playing in our team,” Mitrofanov told Russian outlet TASS.
The Belgium midfielder signed a five-year deal when he arrived from Benfica for €40m in 2012, so his contract runs for another 18 months.
Chelsea were linked with a move for the 27-year-old last summer, but that was rebuffed by then boss Jose Mourinho.
The dynamic midfielder has played 28 times for Zenit this term, scoring twice, while his career tally in Russia points to 19 goals in 142 appearances.
The news from Russia certainly adds up with Stoke boss Mark Hughes adding defensive midfielder Giannelli Imbula to their ranks in January for a club-record £18.3m fee.
Whether or not Witsel remains on Hughes’ wanted list now that Imbula has arrived, remains to be seen.