If the Italian media are to be believed then Axel Witsel will be seen in a Napoli shirt on Thursday. If he isn’t then it wouldn’t be the first time Witsel had allegedly been on the verge of signing for an Italian side, only to then see the move break down.

Almost every transfer window there’s one or another Italian club trying to buy Witsel for less than Zenit want to sell him for, and trying to convince the player to earn less than he currently does.

An auction situation would suit Zenit, but every time there’s claims in Italy of a fee being agreed, and a transfer being nearly done, it’s soon enough followed by reports in Russia rubbishing it. That would make it clear the hype isn’t coming from Zenit feeding the Russian media.

There they would, over the past week at least, lean more toward the idea of Everton. That’s simply because of money, Zenit want a good price and aren’t playing games about it. The Russian club are straight up: Pay us an acceptable fee if you want the player. say Napoli have now offered €22m, which has immediately been dismissed by Zenit. The club paid €40m for the player and want to recoup as much as possible, somewhere around €30m sounds about right.

The Liverpool Echo have already reported that Everton aren’t interested in games and an auction, and Ronald Koeman will walk away if he feels things are getting too complicated or expensive.

However, if Everton really want the player, then it’s worth offering Zenit something higher than Napoli just did. Even if Everton wanted to make up part of the fee in bonuses, it may allow Zenit to flex their muscles and tell the Russian media, and therefore the club’s fans, what a good deal they got.

Even says that Zenit may have to adjust their stance on the matter, given that Witsel only has a year of contract left, Everton could provide the club with an attractive way out.