Axel Witsel’s agent claims the midfielder snubbed Manchester United in order to join Borussia Dortmund, after an 18-month spell in China with Tianjin Quanjian.
The Belgium international, who impressed during his country’s run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, reached an agreement with Dortmund on Monday after they met his £18 million release clause.
Witsel agreed a four-year contract at Signal Iduna Park and is due to be unveiled later this week. However, Paul Stefani has revealed that his client had other suitors and rejected the advances of United and Napoli.
Speaking to Belgian outlet HLN, Stefani said: “We chatted for a moment, Axel says, ‘Maybe I want to leave China’. I say to him laughing, ‘Axel, I promise that I will come up with something really great!’
“I remembered that a few months earlier I had been to Dortmund, where I met someone from the club. I call that man and he brings me into contact with the management.
“Sports director Michael Zorc and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke invited me to come and talk at a time when Axel was at the World Cup in Russia. There I heard that Dortmund were looking for a player like Witsel.
“I explained to them that the Portuguese lawyer of Witsel has negotiated a buyout clause of €20m with Tianjin. That sounded like music to them, because they thought that Tianjin would ask for an amount of around €60m for Axel.
“When the transfer later started rolling, the Chinese still tried to get out of that buyout clause, but it was conclusive.
“There were other candidates. Manchester United wanted him, Napoli too. But I told Axel, ‘At Dortmund you are the number one, at Manchester you are one of the many… and at Napoli too’.”