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Axel Witsel still wants Zenit exit despite failed AC Milan deadline bid

Axel Witsel won the Russian Premier League title last season with Zenit St Petersburg.

AC Milan target Axel Witsel says he is disappointed not to have secured a move from Zenit St Petersburg this summer.

Milan CEO Adriano Galliani said his club pulled out all the stops to try and sign the 26-year-old midfielder on transfer deadline day, but Witsel admitted on Tuesday that he was never going to leave Russia this summer.

"It wasn't for financial reasons or because of the offers I had, it was for sporting reasons," Witsel told reporters ahead of Belgium's Euro 2016 qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday.

"It was important for Zenit to keep me right now. There were offers from Italy but even if there was an offer of €60 million, Zenit would have said no.

"It wasn't a question of money -- on a sporting level it would have been a big loss for Zenit at the moment. You don't want to lose one of the most important players in your team in the last days of the transfer window and you wouldn't have had time to get a replacement either."

Tottenham and Chelsea were also linked with the former Standard Liege and Benfica player, who joined Zenit for €40m in 2012.

Witsel has not ruled out an exit from Zenit in January, adding: "It's clearly time to move up a level and move to a big European team but it's not sure it'll happen in January either.

"Zenit know what I think and are aware of my wishes so I'll stay calm and see what happens in January.

"I've spent three years in Russia and we were champions last year. It's clear I want to have another challenge at a higher level. It doesn't matter where but it's true that I like Italy."

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