Axel Witsel turned down the opportunity to join Manchester United because he would be appreciated more at Borussia Dortmund, according to his agent Paul Stefani.
The midfielder has agreed to join the Bundesliga side in a €20 million (£18m/$23m) move this summer after just one season in China.
And transfer broker Stefani has revealed that the midfielder had his choice of top leagues in Europe once his low release clause and desire to leave Tianjin was revealed.
However, he steered him away from joining Jose Mourinho’s side after the Premier League side showed an interest.
“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!'” Stefani told Het Laatste Nieuws .
“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.
“I explained to them that the Portuguese lawyer of Witsel has negotiated a buy-out 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’.”