Alex Witsel
Axel Witsel of Belgium in action during the international friendly match between Belgium and Italy at King Baudouin Stadium on 13 November 2015 in Brussels Getty

Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are set to battle it out for the transfer of Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel in January. The Belgium international is looking to leave Russia in the January transfer window and a move to either of the Premier League clubs is being touted to be a good proposition for the 26-year-old player.

The Daily Mail reports that Chelsea had enquired about the player in the summer when they were considering a £23m ($32m) bid but the transfer never went through. However, Tottenham have now emerged as favourites for his signature given Witsel's ambitions of playing the Champions League, something which is likely to be best afforded by the north London club who after 20 games lie in the fourth spot, compared to defending champions Chelsea who are 14th.

Witsel has not been an integral member of the squad at Zenit, making only 15 appearances in their title-winning stint last season. The midfielder is currently cup tied with Zenit and should Chelsea manage to pip their London rivals to his signature, they will not be able to utilise him for their round of 16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain in February.

The Blues are also looking to add a striker in the upcoming transfer window, with Sadio Mane and Gonzalo Higuain among the few players being scouted for a possible transfer later in the month. Diego Costa has failed to replicate his form from last season and has managed only six goals in the league this season, while being suspended in four games.

New manager Guus Hiddink has managed to instil the belief back in the players, which showed in their 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, a performance which was miles better than the show they put under Jose Mourinho this season.

Meanwhile, Tottenham are also in the market for a forward thinking player to alleviate the pressure off Harry Kane, who is back in his groove after an indifferent start to the season. Spurs are currently six points behind league leaders Arsenal and have been beaten only twice this term, the lowest in the division.