Zenit Saint Petersburg and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel is currently at the centre of a rapidly-evolving transfer tussle between numerous suitors.
Everton were reportedly close to bringing in the 27-year-old, having fought off rivals including serial Serie-A-winners Juventus.
More recently, the wires have been abuzz with news that Chelsea have hijacked the Toffees’ move, ‘all but agreeing terms’ with his representatives according to The Sun.
Regular gossip-column fodder even before his 2012 decision to swap Benfica for the city where Rasputin met his storied demise, Witsel’s name will doubtless be familiar to fans of both Premier League mainstays.
But, hold a loaded .45 to the dome of a member of either delegation and the likelihood of being told precisely what kind of player the £28m-rated Belgian is would be negligible.
He’s a central midfielder, but what does that mean in this era of specialists, of attacking and defensive varieties and their various positional sub-classes?
Witsel’s best league season for Zenit in terms of direct goal involvement produced four strikes and three assists in 40 games.
Despite having started his career at Standard Liege as a winger, he isn’t an overly conspicuous attacking force.
Nor is he a devoted ball-winner, ranking eighth for both average tackles and interceptions per league game among his colleagues in St Petersburg last term.
Instead, the 71-cap international is the kind of amalgam of the latter role and playmaker (while still packing the propensity to trouble the scorers) that has led Belgium manager Marc Wilmots to describe him as “my boss on the pitch”.
Yet, if Witsel really was the Rode Duivels’ engine room leader at the Euros this summer, then questions must be asked as to just how effective he can be.
True, he currently has the fourth-best pass completion rate of any player to have made more than one start in France, yet teammate Eden Hazard averaged more passes per game at the tournament, despite playing on the left wing.
Getting out-distributed by a wideman can hardly be the calling card of £28m-worth of dominant midfield playmaker.
Neither can getting bossed by Joe Ledley and Joe Allen, as the Chelsea and Everton target was against Wales at the last-eight stage of the Euros.