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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Axel Witsel completes move to Tianjin Quanjian from Zenit St Petersburg

Axel Witsel joined Zenit from Benfica in 2012.

Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel is joining Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian, the Russian club have confirmed on their official website.

Belgium international Witsel, who joined Zenit in 2012, scored 22 goals in 180 matches for them, winning the Russian league title, the Russian Cup and the Russian Super Cup.

In a statement, Zenit said: "Everyone wishes to thank Axel for his contribution to the club's history."

At the start of the month, Witsel confirmed he would reject an offer from Juventus in order to join Tianjin Quanjian.

The 27-year-old almost moved to Juve in the summer, but the although the switch fell through and a deal was expected to be completed in the January window ahead of him becoming a free agent at the end of the season.

However, Mediaset quote Witsel as telling Tuttosport he 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 among a trio of Chinese clubs vying for Witsel.

Tianjin Quanjian will be playing their first season in the Chinese Super League after winning promotion last term.

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