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Man City & Chelsea yet to bid for Witsel

ESPN staff
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Axel Witsel faced Chelsea in the Champions League during the most recent campaign © Getty Images
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Benfica have issued a statement denying reports that midfielder Axel Witsel is on the brink of leaving the club.

Witsel, 23, left Standard Liege for Benfica last summer on a five-year deal and, after an impressive debut season, has been linked with a move away. Reports have suggested Real Madrid and AC Milan are leading the race for his services, though Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be interested.

Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has already said it will be very difficult to keep Witsel in Lisbon, and Portuguese newspaper Record claims the Belgium international has already said goodbye to his team-mates, but his club have now moved to play down the speculation.

In a statement on the club's official website, Benfica said: "In light of the stories published today in several newspapers, Sport Lisboa e Benfica want to clarify that we have not received any proposals up to this point for Witsel and that the player has a release clause stipulated in his contract."

Benfica also said that reports that the club is interested in signing Senegalese defender Boukary Drame from Chievo are "pure fiction".

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