I wanted a new challenge, says new Zenit signing Axel Witsel

The highly-rated Belgian midfielder surprised many by signing for the Russians - alongside Hulk - and believes that he has arrived at an "ambitious" club in a competitive league
Former Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel has defended his big money move to Zenit St Petersburg by insisting that he "wanted a new challenge".

The 23-year-old was linked to a host of major clubs during the summer including Real Madrid, Roma and Manchester City. However, a deal never materialised and he has now ended up with the Russian outfit.

"This is a very ambitious club. I wanted a new challenge and Zenit showed the greatest desire to sign me," he revealed.

The promising star then justified his decision, insisting that the Russian league was not a step down from the Portuguese league.

"It is not a step down to come here. The Russian league is certainly not inferior to the Portuguese domestic competition," he continued.