Paul Stefani, Alex Witsel’s agent has stated that the midfielder opted for a move to Dortmund, snubbing United because he would not be appreciated at Old Trafford.
The midfielder has joined Dortmund from Tianjin for a fee of €20 million, after just one season in China. Stefani stated the Belgium international had offers from two top leagues in Europe.
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.
“Sports director Michael Zorc and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke invited me to come and talk at a time when Axel was at the World Cup in Russia. There I heard that Dortmund were looking for a player like Witsel.
“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’.”
But Witsel was not the only midfielder United were chasing, according to Stefani, who says they also had Chelsea star N’Golo Kante high on their shortlist.
“I know from a very good source that Mourinho said he wanted Witsel, but not in the first place. N’Golo Kante topped his list. Eventually Axel said: ‘Do me a favour and finish it as quickly as possible, because I really want to go to Dortmund’.”