Despite reports just a few short days ago indicating that Axel Witsel was all but signed, talks for Napoli to sign the Zenit St Petersburg midfielder have, reportedly, collapsed, with little to no chance of them being revived.
Because of course that happened, because why could we possibly have nice things. $#!%.
The reports are coming out of Italy, and despite all saying that the talks are pretty much dead, they bizarrely all have different reasoning. Some sources say that Zenit jacked up their fee demands at the last second, which wouldn't be shocking after they did the same damn thing to Juventus and Milan last summer. Some say that image rights are to blame, despite numerous reports on Sunday and Monday specifically saying that the image rights had been settled.
Perhaps the most interesting version of events, though, was that Maurizio Sarri himself scuppered the deal, preferring to add a midfielder with a different skillset. That's interesting considering how he's talked in the past about not caring about the transfer market and just wanting players to use, but given how choosy he was with the squad he had last season that's perhaps believable. Finding out what he'd rather have might prove interesting, though, especially considering how badly Napoli seemed to need a midfielder with Witsel's skillset.
It's a shame to see Napoli miss out on a player of Witsel's quality, but they've been linked with enough good midfielders so far this summer that they probably have a good backup plan in place -- though it's worth noting that Witsel himself seemed to be a backup plan. That said, hopefully this talk of a collapse is premature and we see Witsel signing a contract alongside Aurelio De Laurentiis soon, because Napoli could really, really use him.