Chinese soccer club Tianjin Quanjian has categorically denied reports that Borussia Dortmund is close to agreeing to a deal with Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel.
Rumors emerged on Monday that Witsel is on the verge of a move to the Bundesliga giants, with Belgian broadcaster RTBF claiming the 29-year-old is in Dortmund for a medical.
However, Quanjian head coach Paulo Sousa has come out to deny any such rumors.
"I haven't received any information on Witsel's transfer, neither from the club nor the player himself," he said ahead of Wednesday's clash with Shanghai SIPG.
"It is my understanding that the player may have a transfer clause in his contract, but the clause could only be triggered during the transfer window.
"Now that the Chinese transfer window has closed, the transfer won't happen. Hopefully our club's interests will be protected by local football association and other relevant departments."
"I'm convinced that Witsel will be back. He is an integral part of our team. I hope he will report back to training on Aug. 5 and continue to help us in the second half of the season," he added.
Quanjian owner Shu Yuhui echoed Sousa's stance during his latest interview with Tianjin media Sports Today. "Witsel will return (to China) on Aug. 5," he said, without hesitation.
Witsel played a pivotal role this summer in Belgium's highest World Cup finish, performing admirably throughout as Roberto Martinez's Red Devils bowed out at the semi-finals before a third-place playoff victory over England.
The former Zenit St Petersburg star joined Quanjian in January 2017 after turning down an offer from Serie A champions Juventus.
Paulo Sousa's side have taken 21 points from 14 matches in the Chinese Super League and sit 7th in the table, eight points clear of the league leaders Beijing Guoan.