Manchester United and Manchester City Eyeing Axel Witsel

Michael KelleherContributor IIIApril 13, 2012

Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel
Benfica midfielder Axel WitselEuroFootball/Getty Images

Portuguese legend Manuel Rui Costa, who now serves as director of football for Benfica, has tipped Belgian international Axel Witsel for big things in the future, according to Sky Sports News.

Witsel, who is 23 years old, is only in his first season at the Estadio de Luz after transferring from Standard Liege last summer.

He was a standout performer for the Portuguese side during their impressive run in the Champions League this year. He was impressive in games against Premier League giants Manchester United and Chelsea and his performances have made Europe’s top teams sit up and take notice.

Rui Costa is adamant Witsel has what it takes to succeed at the highest level, but hopes to keep hold of his star man for a few years yet.

"Witsel is ready for any championship," he said. "He is one of the few high level young players ready to play in a top club, although I hope he can continue with Benfica for a long time.

"I hope he could move to a side that allows him to continue his career path, though whoever wants to take him has to make a great investment.”

Manchester United and Manchester City, who are currently battling each other for the Premier League title, both had high-ranking representatives watching Benfica’s 1-0 defeat to rivals Sporting Lisbon last Monday.

Manchester United chief scout Martin Ferguson was in attendance, as was Manchester City assistant manager David Platt.

Witsel's physique (6'1") and physical style of play would help him stand up to the rigours of Premier League football. He also possesses positional versatility, having demonstrated the ability to line up at right midfield, right back as well as his preferred role in the centre of midfield.