Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel has been made to eat his words following the club’s 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, having claimed before kick-off that there is no “serious difference in the quality” of the Bundesliga and Premier League.
The Belgium international has been one of Dortmund’s best players this season having arrived in a €20m deal from Chinese side Tianjin Tianhai, forming a formidable partnership with fellow newcomer Thomas Delaney.
But the two midfielders were overrun during their Champions League knockout stage match against Tottenham on Wednesday, something which should have Witsel backtracking on his earlier comments about the quality of football in England.
“I do not think the Premier League is better than the Bundesliga on the whole,” Witsel told German publication Sport Buzzer. “It’s all about the media hype.
Axel Witsel really went to Russia and China to make a ton of money, while everyone said he was wasting his talent, and then casually strolled back to Europe to be an important piece in a fun Dortmund team. Iconic.
— Zito (@_Zeets) February 13, 2019
“Many more people in the world see the Premier League on TV, because it is almost everywhere receivable. For historical reasons, the international media are more geared to England than to Germany, Italy or France. But I do not see any serious difference in the quality of football.”
Witsel’s career path has never seen him try his luck in the Premier League, and in fact, his summer move to Borussia Dortmund in the midfielder’s first ever spell in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
He came through the ranks at hometown side Standard Liège before joining Portuguese giants S.L. Benfica in 2011. Witsel then when on to move to Russia with Zenit Saint Petersburg for five years before his high-profile switch to China.
Witsel was on the books with the likes of Alexandre Pato and Anthony Modeste at Tianjin Tianhai, but the Belgian was eager to return to Europe after the World Cup and eventually secured a four-year contract at the Westfalenstadion at the start of August.