Axel Witsel is a Belgian footballer who plays for Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg and the Belgium national football team. His natural position is centre midfield and can also play attacking midfielder, but he came into the first team as a right-winger.
Born on the 12th of January 1989 Witsel began his club career at Belgian club Standard Liege making his debut as a 17 year old in September 2006. During the 2007Ã¢â‚¬â€œ08 season, at 18 years of age, he was a key member in the squad of Standard LiÃƒÂ¨ge, winners of the Belgian League title that year. He formed a unique partnership with Marouane Fellaini and Steven Defour.
Witsel signed for Portuguese giants Benfica on a five-year deal on 13 July 2011, including a Ã¢â€šÂ¬40 million buyout clause. Witsel scored twice in the 3Ã¢â‚¬â€œ1 win against FC Twente, in the Champions League play-off second leg, on 24 August 2011, sending Benfica to the group stages with a 5Ã¢â‚¬â€œ3 aggregate victory. He played just one season at the club. On 3 September 2012, Witsel signed for Zenit Saint Petersburg for Ã¢â€šÂ¬40 million (£32.5 million), after signing a five-year contract.
Witsel made his debut in the Russian Premier League on 14 September, replacing Konstantin Zyryanov in the 70th minute as Zenit fell 2Ã¢â‚¬â€œ0 to Terek Grozny. He scored his first two goals for the club on 30 November when Zenit brushed aside Spartak Moscow 4Ã¢â‚¬â€œ2 at the Luzhniki Stadium. Prior to making his international debut for the senior side in 2008, he played for the under-21 side in 2007 earning nine caps as well as helping his side reach the semi-finals of the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship.