Axel Witsel: a brilliant player wasted in China
Axel Witsel followed the likes of Oscar to the Chinese Super League in 2017 and for many, that was a disappointing decision. Witsel has still yet to have tested himself in any of Europe's top five leagues.
Very highly rated as a youngster, Axel Witsel came through the ranks at his hometown club Standard Liege, forcing his way into the club's first team at just 16-years-old. Five successful years with the Belgian club followed, before the midfielder settled on a move to Portuguese side Benfica, despite having offers from Germany, Spain and England on the table. One year later, Witsel made the decision to move to Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia, spending four years there. At the end of his spell with Zenit, again offers from Europe's top leagues came, with the likes of Liverpool, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund all reportedly interested. However, Witsel opted for a move to China with Tianjin Quanjian, some might say that this was not an ambitious choice from the now 29-year-old Belgian international.
For Witsel, he is now reaching the golden period of his career and his best years are likely to be spent out of Europe, a real shame for a player with so much talent. Witsel has represented Belgium 87 times since making his debut in 2008 and will be looking forward to showcasing his talents at the World Cup in Russia again this summer.
It seems that for too long, Witsel has followed the cheque book as opposed for a real test in his career. Witsel clearly has the talent to compete in most European leagues and according to multiple reports, several Premier League clubs were even interested in Witsel during the last transfer window, however the midfielder has decided to stay with his Chinese club.
Now 29, Witsel has important decisions to make. Does he stay with an average side, or does he test himself at the top? Time is running out.