Axel Witsel has revealed that Tianjin Quanjian head coach Fabio Cannavaro blocked FC Bayern München counterpart Carlo Ancelotti from contacting him last month.
The Belgium international raised eyebrows in January when he turned down the advances of Italian giants Juventus in favour of a move to China, after four and a half years in Russia with Zenit.
But it appears that Ancelotti had attempted to coax Witsel back to Europe, although Cannavaro intervened as he wants to keep hold of the highly-rated 28-year-old midfielder.
The Standard Liege youth product admits the prospect of playing for the Bundesliga champions is appealing, but wants to repay the faith shown in him by the 2006 World Cup winner.
“Everyone thinks that coming here, I [would] get forgotten,” Witsel told Le Vif. “I’ll give you an example, it’s exclusive… Two weeks ago, Carlo Ancelotti called Fabio Cannavaro and asked him if he could contact me.
“He wanted me at Bayern. This is proof that you are not forgotten in high-level European football on the pretext that you are playing in China.
“But Cannavaro replied to Ancelotti that he needed me. I have to take this into account, it is also he who brought me here.
“If he [Cannavaro] had given me the green light to negotiate? Bayern is Bayern … I could go to Juventus, but Bayern is still a notch above. In short, it’s just to say that they do not forget me.”