Axel Witsel
Manchester United and Chelsea are monitoring Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel after he admitted that he wants to leave RussiaGetty

Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly monitoring Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel, who has admitted that he is looking for a fresh challenge after winning the Russian title with his current employers, according to the Mirror.

The Belgian midfielder, who is a regular member of his national team, has spent the last three years in Russia following a big money move from Benfica and is now ready to return to Europe in search of a new challenge.

This has alerted clubs across Europe, with Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho interested in bringing him to the Premier League. The Dutch manager has already made signing a holding midfielder a priority this summer as he looks to ease Michael Carrick's burden.

The Red Devils have been linked with moves for Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan, but are yet to make an approach for either.

Chelsea, on the other hand, are also looking for a midfielder albeit just to provide backup for first choice Nemanja Matic, but the Portuguese manager has indicated that he is going to sign two or three players to improve the strength in depth of the squad.

However, according to Gazzetta Dello Sport, Serie A champions Juventus are leading the race after the club began talks with Witsel's representatives over a move to Italy in the summer.

The Belgian international confessed his admiration for the Italian giants and believes their latest exploits in the domestic league and the Champions League shows that they are getting back to their best days, when they were feared by all the top clubs around Europe.

"I won in Russia, now I want to play in a competitive tournament," Witsel said, as quoted by the Gazzetta Dello Sport.

"Juventus would be a great super solution for me, it is a top club, have a serious project and are returning to the levels of a time when they were champions like Zidane and Nedved. Contacts with the club continue," the former Benfica midfielder added.