Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and PSG all could have signed Dortmund's Witsel
Axel Witsel could have joined Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain at various points in his career but feels vindicated in his decision to sign for Borussia Dortmund last year.
Witsel is in his second season at Dortmund, having joined the Bundesliga club from Chinese side Tianjin Quanjin on a four-year contract.
He narrowly missed out on the Bundesliga title in his debut campaign. However, Witsel believes he is at the right club after possible moves to other European heavyweights did not come to pass.
Speaking to Goal and DAZN, the former Zenit midfielder detailed how he missed out on joining Madrid from Benfica before electing to return to Zenit ahead of moving to Juve.
"I could have joined Real Madrid when Jose Mourinho was there," Witsel said. "But then Real signed Luka Modric, so a transfer to Madrid made no sense to me.
"Shortly before the end of the transfer period Zenit called. I had good discussions with the people responsible and finally agreed. I am an open person and was not afraid of Russia.
"My contract with Zenit expired and I wanted to move to Turin to Juventus. I had already passed the medical check and actually only had to sign the contract.
"I waited all day in the office and Zenit told me to come back. In retrospect, that was perhaps a twist of fate. Maybe it was just not the right time."
What a start to the season! A strong and a confident performance— Axel Witsel (@axelwitsel28) August 17, 2019
Nice to get two assists and even better to gain the 3 points
Great atmosphere in the stadium as always @BVB #BVBFCA #AW28 pic.twitter.com/aaitaXgVs3
United and PSG were said to be in the running for his signature in 2018, but the prospect of regular first-team football convinced Witsel to choose Dortmund instead.
"First [Dortmund sporting director] Michael Zorc approached me, then [coach] Lucien Favre called me," Witsel added.
"I also had other offers, maybe I could have gone to Paris or Manchester, but I did not want to wait. And I had the feeling that I was the first choice for Dortmund. It is important to feel good when you go to a new club.
"So after the talks with Zorc, Favre and [CEO] Hans-Joachim Watzke, I decided to join BVB. Dortmund is a top club - and I really wanted to join a top European club.
"Maybe it was my last chance at 29 years old. It was the right decision."