Zenit St Petersburg spend big to sign Hulk and Witsel
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Tue September 4, 2012
Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel joined Zenit from Porto and Benfica.
- Russian club Zenit sign Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Alex Witsel
- Zenit's transfer dealings make them third biggest spending club in Europe behind Chelsea and PSG
- Zenit will play Malaga, AC Milan and Anderlecht in their Champions League group
- Fenerbahce have completed the £8m signing of Raul Meireles from Chelsea
Russian club Zenit St Petersburg joined Europe's biggest spending clubs of the summer transfer window after splashing out a reported $101m to sign Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel from Portuguese clubs Porto and Benfica.
The 26-year-old Hulk, who played for Brazil during the 2012 Olympics, joined Zenit on a five-year contract in a transfer deal worth $50.7m, while the 23-year-old Witsel signed for a similar fee and length of contract.
Those two signings pushed Zenit's spending to over $132m for the 2012/2013 season just behind English Premier League club Chelsea ($140m) and French side Paris St Germain ($206m).
Fair play? Football clubs seek to beat financial offside trap
Financial fair play too late for some?
Footballers' salaries surge
Manchester United goes public
Hulk, whose full name is Givanildo Vieira de Souza, joined Porto in 2008 from Tokyo Verdy after scoring 54 goals in 103 league matches for the Japanese club.
Following his move to Portugal, the Brazilian won three league titles with Porto, the Portuguese Cup and Super Cup as well as the Europa League title.
"This is another important victory, another important step in my life," Hulk, who has played 14 times for Brazil, told the Zenit website.
"But I have to say that I`m thankful to Porto for the opportunity to open doors for me in Russia. I was very happy in Portugal.
"I want to be happy in Zenit, and in Russia too. I want to work in that direction: to get victories and win many titles, just like it was in Porto."
Hulk added: "At first I wanted to play as number 12, but I was told that this number belongs to the club's fans. A friend of mine recommended that I take number 29. He told me that's a special number."
Capped 30 times by Belgium, Witsel joined Benfica from Standard Liege, where he made his professional debut at the age of 17.
Both players have been signed in time to play for Zenit in the Champions League, with the Russian club drawn in the same group as Malaga, AC Milan and Anderlecht.
Zenit are currently top of the Russian league with 16 points from seven matches.
Meanwhile Fenerbahce have completed the £8m signing of Raul Meireles from Chelsea on a four-year contract.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Thu May 23, 2013
When Germany's two biggest soccer clubs go head-to-head in the Champions League final, there can only be one winner: German industry.
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
The Bundesliga model of sustainability is very much in vogue. But are Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund creating a dangerous duopoly?
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Thu May 23, 2013
Bayern Munich super fan Boris Becker takes a tour of London ahead of the 2013 Champions League final.
updated 6:15 AM EDT, Thu May 23, 2013
CNN takes an exclusive look at the venue of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
CNN's Pedro Pinto gives his analysis of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
updated 1:10 PM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
David Beckham embraced his tag as a "gay icon" and has been credited with breaking the big taboo -- homosexuality in football.
updated 3:50 AM EDT, Mon May 13, 2013
'King' Alex Ferguson is quitting Manchester United but the $3.17 billion brand will survive, according to experts.
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Tue May 7, 2013
Italian football lags behind its other European rivals commercially, but newly-crowned Italian champions Juventus is showing Serie A clubs an example of revival.
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
Luis Suarez's biting of Branislav Ivanovic is the latest episode of moments of madness when soccer stars behave badly.
updated 5:38 AM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
Sunderland's partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation is part of its bid to woo the African market.
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
Each year as many as 700 Cameroonian young footballers leave Africa in search of a professional career abroad.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Mon May 6, 2013
Referees across Europe are feeling the heat. Insulted, threatened, chased off the field, attacked, hospitalized and, tragically, killed.
updated 7:25 AM EST, Tue February 26, 2013
Footballers have a battery of physios, fitness trainers and doctors all striving to fine-tune their physique -- but are they missing a trick?
updated 9:24 AM EST, Tue February 26, 2013
No Englishman has won the EPL title in over 20 years, while a leading manager reveals that English coaches are now "not respected abroad."
updated 5:33 AM EDT, Mon May 13, 2013
Hardcore Italian football "ultra" Federico is a Lazio supporter who happily admits directing monkey chants at black players.
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue March 5, 2013
When Jupp Heynckes made his Bundesliga debut as a player in 1965, the name of Bayern Munich was a new one for the nascent German league.
updated 2:02 PM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
Football's world governing body FIFA has confirmed it will use goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
updated 9:03 AM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
Match-fixing has become a worldwide issue, with hundreds of matches under investigation -- but how do you actually fix a football game?
updated 12:00 PM EST, Mon February 18, 2013
U.S soccer star Robbie Rogers has "come out" as gay on the day he retired from the game, making the announcement on his blog.
updated 5:31 PM EST, Mon February 11, 2013
The wealth of owners like Chelsea's Roman Abramovich often fuels success, but for other clubs such backers prove a mixed blessing.
updated 8:42 AM EST, Wed January 30, 2013
The Secret Footballer reveals the complex issues surrounding racism in the English Premier League.