Zenit St Petersburg’s Brazilian international Hulk arrived in Shanghai Wednesday for talks with Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Shanghai SIPG side, following the likes of Ramires and Alex Teixeira to the cash-rich Chinese Super League.
A horde of cheering, red-shirted fans mobbed the 29-year-old at Shanghai airport, as he made his way through the arrivals halls.
Website transfermarkt, which tracks dealings in the sport, put the fee at 58 million Euros, but according to posts on Chinese social networking site Weibo, SIPG’s general manager Sui Guoyang has denied the amount, saying the figure was “not that high”.
The signing is yet to be confirmed, pending a medical Hulk undergoes on Thursday. The deal could break the Asian transfer record of 50 million euros, paid by Jiangsu Suning for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Alex Teixeira just earlier this year in China’s world-leading transfer splurge.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has ambitions to make the Asian giant a footballing power and during the winter transfer window in January and February, Chinese teams broke the Asian transfer record four times in an acquisition spree that outstripped even the mega-rich English Premier League.
But the big spending did not pay off for all of them as Guangzhou Evergrande and Jiangsu Suning flopped in the regional AFC Champions League, a route to a coveted Fifa Club World Cup spot -- while Shanghai SIPG are through to the quarterfinals.
Because Shanghai SIPG already have the maximum five foreign players, Hulk’s arrival would mean one would have to leave the club.