Hulk and Witsel join Zenit

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Moscow - Big-spending Zenit St Petersburg have splashed a record 80-million euros on Brazil striker Hulk and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, signing each to a five-year contract, the Russian champions said on Monday.

Hulk, 26, joined Zenit from Porto and the 23-year-old Witsel moved from Portuguese rivals Benfica.

“It's now official. Both players had signed five-year deals,” Zenit spokesman Dmitry Tsimmerman said.

A club source said Zenit had paid 40-million euros for each player.

Hulk helped Porto to win three Portuguese league titles and the 2011 Europa League trophy after joining from the Japanese J League in 2008.

Hulk and Witsel became Zenit's first major signings in the summer transfer window, which remains open in Russia for another week.

Zenit, drawn in Champions League Group C along with AC Milan, Anderlecht and Malaga, will be able to use both players in Europe's premier club competition.

“We were trying to sign them before the September 3 deadline for the Champions League so they can play for us in that competition as well as the Russian league,” Tsimmerman said.

Media reports also linked big-spending Zenit, backed by Russian energy giant Gazprom, with a $40-million bid for Manchester United's Portuguese striker Nani.

Tsimmerman declined to comment on Nani's possible transfer. - Reuters


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