Brazil’s Hulk joins Shanghai SIPG from Zenit St Petersburg in record deal

  • AP, Beijing
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2016 02:35 IST

Shanghai SIPG signed Brazilian forward Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg for an Asia transfer record $62 million on Thursday.

Zenit said SIPG paid 55.8 million euros for 29-year-old Hulk, plus possible bonuses if he plays well in China.

That figure tops the $56 million Jiangsu Suning paid this year for Brazilian Alex Teixeira. Guangzhou Evergrande paid $47 million for Colombia’s Jackson Martinez.

It is also a Russian record sale.

Shanghai will reportedly pay Hulk $22 million annually, double what his compatriot Neymar, the Brazil captain, makes at Barcelona.

Large Chinese conglomerates have snapped up domestic clubs in the Chinese Super League, giving them dramatically increased spending power.

In the past year, Chinese teams spent more than $300 million to recruit stars from the European leagues such as Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ramires, spurring talk of an unsustainable bubble.

Hulk passed a medical examination at a Shanghai clinic on Wednesday after he was greeted by hundreds of fans at Shanghai’s airport. He will join a squad led by former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is under pressure to improve results after falling 12 points behind league leader Guangzhou Evergrande.

Hulk takes a medical examination at a hospital in Shanghai. (AFP)

Hulk, a left-footed striker known for his muscular build and powerful shot, joined Zenit in 2012 from Porto.

“Over the last four seasons, I have been very happy,” Hulk said in a farewell message to fans on the Zenit website. “Go, Zenit! You will always be in my heart.”

Hulk won the Russian Premier League with Zenit in 2015 but said last year he faced racism in Russia in “almost every game,” and warned it could be “really ugly” when Russia hosts the World Cup in 2018.

He leaves Russia at a time when many of its clubs are slashing spending, as the state-owned companies that bankrolled Russian football come under pressure in a recession amid low oil and gas prices.

Along with Hulk, Zenit is also likely to part company with Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel this summer.

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