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Zenit flex muscles by signing Hulk and Witsel

Russian title holders FC Zenit St Petersburg have captured Brazil forward Hulk and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel in transfers both thought to cost in the region of €40m.

New Zenit signings Hulk and Axel Witsel in Portuguese Liga action
New Zenit signings Hulk and Axel Witsel in Portuguese Liga action ©Getty Images

FC Zenit St Petersburg have made a sensational double swoop, capturing striker Hulk from FC Porto and midfielder Axel Witsel from SL Benfica in deals both thought to be worth in the region of €40m. The pair have penned five-year contracts with the Russian title holders.

The signing of the 26-year-old Hulk was announced early on Monday evening, ending his successful four-season stay at Porto. He won three Portuguese Liga titles, three Portuguese Cups and the 2011 UEFA Europa League after arriving from Japanese club Tokyo Verdy, scoring 78 goals and creating 55 more in only 169 appearances.

He also established himself as a Brazilian international and similarly Witsel, whose acquisition was completed later in the night, brings to Russia the experience of 30 caps for Belgium. The midfielder, 23, spent the last campaign at Benfica after joining from R. Standard de Liège and it is believed that Zenit triggered his €40m buy-out clause.

The duo link up with a Zenit side eager to transfer domestic dominance onto the wider stage. Luciano Spalletti's charges will kick off their UEFA Champions League challenge at newcomers Málaga CF on 18 September; they will also face AC Milan and RSC Anderlecht in Group C.

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