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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Zenit's Axel Witsel to reject Juventus for Chinese Super League move

Axel Witsel joined Zenit from Benfica in 2012.

Axel Witsel has confirmed he will reject an offer from Juventus in order to join Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian from Zenit St. Petersburg.

Witsel, 27, almost joined Juve in the summer but the move fell through and a deal was expected to be completed in the January transfer window ahead of him becoming a free agent at the end of the season.

However, Mediaset quote the Belgium international as telling Tuttosport that he has had "an irresistible offer" from China that was too good to turn down.

"It was a very difficult decision because on the one hand there was a huge, top club in Juventus, but on the other hand there was an irresistible offer for the future of my family," he said.

"The Bianconeri management always behaved like real gentlemen and I can only be grateful to them.

"I will be a Juventus fan and I hope that Juve will win the Champions League, and who knows maybe our paths will finally cross in future."

Witsel will link up with Fabio Cannavaro at Tianjin Quanjian, and earn a reported €18 million annual salary over a four-year contract.

RTBF had last week reported Shanghai SIPG, coached by former Zenit boss Andre Villas-Boas, were also among a trio of Chinese clubs vying for Witsel.

Should the move be confirmed Witsel would be the latest star name added to a growing list who have opted to move to China, where the government hopes to turn the country into a football superpower.

Carlos Tevez and Oscar have recently made the switch in highly lucrative deals, and even players of lesser renown are now casting envious glances at the riches on offer.

Ian Holyman and Ben Gladwell contributed to this report.

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

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