Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel is ready to snub interest from Juventus, Chelsea and Barcelona in favour of a move to China, according to reports.
Italian media outlet Calciomercato have reported that the Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder could be the latest big name player to be moving to China, as he is ready to snub European powerhouses Juventus, Chelsea and Barcelona, with Chinese Super League clubs Shanghai SIPG and Tianjin Quanjian offering lucrative deals.
Axel Witsel is a man in demand, as the Belgian has been linked with several European clubs in recent weeks, none more frequently than Italian champions Juventus, who have been linked with the Zenit midfielder on a number of occasions, as they look to fill the gap left by Paul Pogba’s departure to Manchester United.
I Bianconeri, however, were reported to face competition for Witsel first from Chelsea and then from Barcelona, who entered the fray last week, as Zenit placed a €10 million price tag on the Belgium international’s head.
Reports from Italy though, now state that Witsel has decided to snub interest from the three European biggies and has instead chosen to make a move to China, with a staggering €18m salary on offer from Shanghai SIPG and Tianjin Quanjian.
27-year-old Witsel has been a mainstay in the midfield for Russian powerhouses Zenit St. Petersburg ever since his move from Benfica in 2012. This season he has again been in impressive form for Zenit, appearing in all but one of his side’s league games, with a pass rate of 89.2%, along with scoring once and assisting a further two goals.
The acquisition of Witsel, if it happens, will represent a second big name signing for Shanghai SIPG, who last week signed Brazil international Oscar from Chelsea for an eye-watering £60 million. The move will also see Witsel reunite with Andre Vilas-Boas, under whom he played for Zenit for several years.
And the previous relationship shared between the two is on the minds of the Shanghai SIPG hierarchy, as they look to use that as a leverage to seal the deal with Zenit in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Tianjin Quanjian, managed by Fabio Cannavaro, also remain in the hunt.
One thing looks certain for now though, as it seems like Juventus have yet again lost the race to sign their favourite target over the last few transfer windows.