Zenit St. Petersburg today pulled off two perplexingly expensive signings. They bought Brazilian attacker Hulk from FC Porto, as well as Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel from Benfica. In total the club has spent around £72m on the two players, with Hulk being worth about £40m.
Both players will likely demand astronomical wages. They are both highly rated and able to beat defenders. Hulk is strong while Witsel is more of an all-round athlete. Both could shine in Russia.
However, with Zenit making a statement of intent for European football, this kind of splurge seems foolhardy as FFP looms. The ruling requires teams to spend within their means and run without loss. The theory is that teams cannot borrow against their assets any more, ensuring less financial meltdowns.
The Russian league is one where allegations of bungs and payments out with the books mean that this could be hard to track, and activity like this will certainly draw the attention of UEFA inspectors, if not now then certainly by season 2014/2015.
Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti, formerly of Roma, has certainly been gifted two expensive weapons. It remains to be seen how much say the Italian manager had in their recruitment, but it is certain that he will be pressured to play them constantly.
Will this be the last time we see one team spend so much money on two targets? Perhaps, but with the breakdown of FFP being so open to protest, UEFA may have a lot of hearings to oversee in the coming years.
Mega signings like these may then make UEFA angry. And you wouldn’t like UEFA when they’re angry…