Zenit have announced that midfielder Axel Witsel has joined Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.
The Belgium international said this week that he had received a lucrative proposal from the Chinese Super League that was too good for him and his family to turn down.
The Russian giants have since confirmed that Witsel will join newly promoted Tianjin, coached by former Italy star Fabio Cannavaro.
“FC Zenit and Tianjin Quanjian have agreed a deal for the Belgian midfielder’s move away from St. Petersburg,” Zenit said via their official website.
“Axel Witsel joined the blue-white-sky blues in September 2012 and spent five seasons in St. Petersburg. During this time Axel played 180 matches, scored 22 goals and made 13 assists.
“While at Zenit, Axel won the Russian league title, the Russian Cup and the Russian Super Cup.
“Everyone here at Zenit wishes to thanks Axel for his contribution to the club’s history.”
— FC Zenit in English (@fczenit_en) January 3, 2017
Witsel had been expected to join Serie A Juventus, who have long-since courted the 27-year-old, before his head was turned by Tianjin’s offer.
“It was a very difficult decision because on one hand there was a great team and a top club like Juventus,” he said to Tuttosport.
“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 follows Brazil international Oscar and former Manchester United and Juventus striker Carlos Tevez in moving to China’s top flight in the transfer window.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!