Borussia Dortmund agree deal for Belgium international Axel Witsel
Borussia Dortmund have confirmed they have an agreement in place to sign Belgium international midfielder Axel Witsel on a four-year deal.
The 29-year-old arrived at Dortmund’s training camp in Switzerland on Monday, with a view to finalising a move to the Bundesliga after 18 months with Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian.
Dortmund have said they agreed to meet Witsel’s release fee and have indicated that they expect the transfer to be formally completed with FIFA’s approval in the coming days.
“For several months already we’ve been strongly interested in signing Axel Witsel, and we’re very happy that he’s chosen to join Borussia Dortmund,” the club’s sporting director Michael Zorc said.
“After the World Cup, it was my goal to move back to Europe from China,” Witsel said. “I’m totally happy and also proud to be allowed to play for Dortmund. I didn’t have to think twice after the first talks, because for me, Dortmund is one of the best clubs on the continent. Honestly, I can’t wait to run aground in front of 81,000 people.”
Witsel was an integral part of Belgium’s run to the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He started five of his country’s six matches en route to the last four, where the Red Devils were beaten 1-0 by eventual winners France. He also completed the full 90 minutes of the third/fourth-place play-off win over England.
“Axel is a player with huge international experience who has all the skills required to shape BVB’s central midfield: tactical understanding, strength in the tackle, speed, creativity and a good mentality.”
Witsel began his career at Standard Liege, winning two Belgian League titles, the Belgian Cup and two Belgian Super Cups between 2007-2011. He lifted the 2012 Portuguese League Cup in his only season with Benfica, before adding the Russian Premier League, Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup to his collection during a four-year stint at Zenit St Petersburg. The 2008 Belgium Player of the Year moved to Tianjin in January 2017, producing five goals and three assists in 36 Super League appearances.