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Zenit Spent £70m To Sign Hulk And Alex Witsel

While the transfer market has closed in most of Europe, it is still open in Russia, and Zenit St Petersburg announced their Champions League intentions with a sensational double swoop today for Porto striker Hulk and Benfica’s Axel Witsel for a combined £70million.

“It’s now official. Both players had signed five-year deals,” Zenit spokesman Dmitry Tsimmerman was reported as saying by Rueters.

“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.”

Witsel had been heavily linked with a summer move to Real Madrid, but the former Standard Liege man, who has represented Belgium at every age group signed, has now made the move to Zenit for a reported £30 million from Benfica.

The 26-year-old Hulk, who has long been a target for Chelsea, surprised everyone by agreeing to five year contract after the Russian Premier League leaders coughed up a reported €50million (£39.6m) to secure the frontman.

Last week, Porto president Pinto da Costa revealed he had turned down an offer worth €50m from Zenit for the powerful forward, but a deal has now been reached by the two clubs.

Hulk scored 21 goals in all competitions last season and played a crucial role in Porto’s Europa League title-winning campaign in 2010-11.

The addition of Witsel and Hulk has to make Zenit the favourites to win their Champions League group which includes AC Milan, Anderlecht and Malaga.