Zenit dig deep,bag Hulk and Witsel for 80m euros

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

Written by Reuters | Moscow | Published: September 5, 2012 1:03 am

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.

Olympiakos get diakite

Olympiakos Piraeus have strengthened their squad before the start of the Champions League with the addition of Mali midfielder Drissa Diakite. The 27-year-old midfielder has joined the Greek champions from French side Nice,signing a one-year contract.

Olympiakos were able to make the signing even though the European transfer window closed on August 31 as the deadline for Greek clubs is September 15.

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