Chinese club swoops for Belgium international

Brussels (AFP) – China’s buying binge continued into the New Year with Tianjin Quanjian FC luring Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel away from Zenit Saint Petersburg with an 18 million euro annual pay packet, Belgian media reported Monday.

Over the four-year deal Witsel, 28, will pocket 72 million euros ($75 million) in salary at the club coached by Italian former World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro, the 2006 world player of the year.

He joins the club in northeastern China with immediate effect, Belgian TV station RTBF said on its internet page.

Starting off his career at Standard Liege, Witsel moved to Benfica before joining Zenit and was linked to a move to Juventus before the big money Chinese bid came in.

The stalwart of Belgium’s international midfield, who has 71 caps and has scored seven goals, is the latest capture by a Chinese club and comes on the heals of the December deal that makes Argentina’s Carlos Tevez the highest salaried player in the world at Shanghai Shenhua, where he will earn 38 million euros a season.

Earlier in Decembre, Shanghai SIPG recruited Brazialian Oscar from Chelsea for 71 million euros.

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