Everton’s hopes of signing midfielder Axel Witsel have vanished as the player has accepted a big-money move to China, according to Belgian website RTBF.
The player’s contract at Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg was due to end next summer, with a host of clubs reportedly interested in him, including Premier League sides Chelsea and the Toffees.
— NinetyMinutesOnline (@90MinsOnline) January 2, 2017
The highly rated 27-year-old has instead opted to follow Carlos Tevez and Oscar to China, joining Tianjin Quanjian for what is believed to be £300,000 a week.
Everton are expected to be busy in the January transfer window, with Ronald Koeman having money to spend to strengthen his squad.
The Goodison Park side have been inconsistent this season and the Dutch coach is believed to covet a host of new players.
Witsel joined Zenit from Benfica in September 2012 for €40 million.
The Belgian made 180 appearances for the Russian side, getting 14 assists and scoring 22 goals.
The midfielder made his debut for his country’s senior side in March 2008, during which he scored their only goal in a 4-1 loss to Morocco.
He was included in the squad that travelled to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, where Belgium were knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual finalists Argentina.
Witsel was also included in the team that went to France for the 2016 European Championships, where he scored against the Republic of Ireland in a group stage match.