Witsel is one of two Standard Liege players to remain from the 2009 championship-winning side. Player of the Year back in 2008, he’s now a much improved all-round midfield performer, having often appeared to be in Steven Defour’s shadow, but he’s emerged recently as a leader in his own right. Has been highly coveted across Europe for at least the last 18 months, and his father last month announced his intentions to encourage his son to move on. “Axel is ready for one of the world’s three major leagues: Serie A, Premier League and La Liga, ” Thierry Witsel, also Axel’s agent, told Corriere dello Sport. “I hope that he has just finished his last season with Standard Liege. Fiorentina are interested but there are other Italian clubs, he spoke about Italy with (Francois) Gillet and (Gaby) Mudingayi, his team-mates in the national team and he’s waiting only for the right offer. Axel has no pretensions, but his dream has always been Arsenal. He just wants a club that is ready to believe in him.”
Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne is a diamond in Genk’s midfield. Along with Thibaut Courtois and Jelle Vossen, he was one of the main contributors to Racing Genk’s championship winning campaign this year. He’s strong, intelligent and he’s been the architect behind many of the goals scored by Marvin Ogunjimi and Vossen. His mother lives in the UK and the Premiership could be his natural home, with Chelsea and Tottenham already declaring their intent to snap up the 19 year-old this summer. De Bruyne has made over 60 appearances for Genk, scoring seven, and has also since broken in to the Belgian senior side.
Defour was a regular with Genk when he was 17 and Standard Liege’s captain at the age of 19. The midfielder has been linked with moves to Arsenal, AC Milan and Manchester United over the past two or three years but a series of unfortunate injuries has perhaps delayed the first big move of his career. His agent, Paul Stefani, declared last month: “He is being watched by top clubs in England, France, Spain and Italy, and we may have a decision to make before long.” It is likely Defour would be an instant hit in the Premier League and it is believed his club would be willing to sell for around £15million.
The rangy striker is extremely mature for his 18 years and handles himself well in the media spotlight. Thrust into the public’s consciousness during Anderlecht’s championship-winning season in 2009/2010, he’s now found himself in a poor team with a multi-million pound price tag above his head. He’s immensely strong, powerful and is a natural-born finisher. Jose Mourinho admitted he wanted to bring the striker to Real Madrid while the teenager was pictured wearing a Chelsea shirt during a tour of Stamford Bridge – sparking speculation that West London could be his destination. Barely a week goes by without the teenager being mentioned in conjunction with a lucrative move that could catapult him to international stardom. He scored 16 goals in 37 appearances overall last term and will be one of the most significant transfer stories of the summer when the window reopens in July.