Axel Witsel moves to Tianjin Quanjian from Zenit St Petersburg

AZ Alkmaar v Zenit St. Petersburg - UEFA Europa League group stage - Group D

Zenit St Petersburg have confirmed Axel Witsel is to join Tianjin Quanjian in the latest high-profile acquisition by a Chinese Super League side.

The Belgium international will link up with the newly-promoted side managed by former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro for the new season after rejecting the opportunity to join Juventus. Witsel, whose contract with Zenit was due to expire at the end of this season, is expected to sign a five-year deal worth a reported €20m (£17m) a year.

“It was a very difficult decision because on one hand there was a great team and a top club like Juventus,” Witsel said this week.

“But on the other there was a crucial offer for my family that I couldn’t turn down. The leadership at Juventus have always behaved like gentlemen with me and I can only be grateful to them.

“I will cheer for Juventus and I hope they can win the Champions League. Then who knows, maybe one day in the future our paths will finally meet.”

Witsel, 27, was linked with Everton last summer but had been expected to move to Italy on a free transfer at the end of the European season.

Powered by article was written by Ed Aarons, for The Guardian on Tuesday 3rd January 2017 16.55 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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