MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. Russia’s Zenit Football Club dismissed the offer made by United Kingdom’s Stoke City club to buy Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel for €15-16 mln, General Director of Zenit Maxim Mitrofanov told TASS on Monday.
"There was an offer from the Stoke City. They offered about €15-16 mln. No other proposals took place. [Our] colleagues probably think we may ‘fail’ in summer. Witsel’s agents are dreaming of selling him somewhere but we will be happy if he continues playing in our team," Mitrofanov said.
Witsel joined Zenit in fall 2012 and signed a five-year contract after playing in Portugal’s Benfica. He played 147 games in Zenit and scored 19 goals.
Zenit Football Club currently meets financial fair play requirements of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), particularly owing to smart work on the transfer market, the club's General Director went on to say.
"The financial status of the club is currently in line with fair play rules," Mitrofanov said.
In May 2014 the UEFA penalized Zenit for noncompliance with financial fair play rules, including 12 mln euro fine imposed on the club (6 mln euro will be refunded if the club honors requirements).
Zenit manages to comply with UEFA requirements owing to the sophisticated transfer policy in particular. "The transfer balance is of interest for the UEFA in the first instance," Mitrofanov said. "We did not make any major purchases in terms of prices and at the same time successfully sold [Salomon] Rondon [to West Bromwich] for 18 mln euro. We bought him [from Rubin football club] at the old euro rate and sold at the new rate. The difference in rubles was extraordinary because of that. As far as acquisitions are concerned, following transfers of [Ezequiel] Garay and Javi Garcia, which were fairly beneficial for us, the [other] deals were nearly free of charge for us, particularly if comparing to the price of average deals on the transfer market. In particular, this concerns three players joining our starting XI last winter - Yuri Zhirkov, Alexander Kokorin and Mauricio," he added.
According to financial fair play rules approved by the UEFA, clubs eligible to participate in UEFA tournaments have to prove they have no overdue debts to other clubs, their players and social (internal revenue) services and that they do not spend more than earn.