Brazilian striker Hulk has moved to Chinese Super League team Shangai SIPG from Zenit St.Petersburg for £46.1 million, making him the most expensive signing in the history of Asian football. That title was previously held by Alex Teixiera, who Jaingsu Suning paid Shaktar Donetsk £38.4m for.
In signing for Shangai SIPG, whose head coach is Sven Goran Eriksson, Hulk becomes just the sixth non-Chinese player at the club with the others being, fellow Brazilian Elkeson, Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Dario Conca (Argentina), Kim Ju-Young (South Korea) and Jean Evrard Kouassi (Ivory Coast).
Hulk’s Asian experience
After enjoying an excellent 2015/2016 season with Zenit St Petersburg, whereby he scored 21 goals in 35 appearances whilst also helping the club to win both the Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup, Hulk was named in Brazil’s squad for this month’s Copa America. However he only made one substitute appearance in the finals and was unable to add to the 11 international goals he scored in his previous 47 appearances for Brazil.
Hulk has significant experience of playing in Asian football, having done so for three Japanese clubs after leaving Brazilian side Esporte Clube Vitoria in 2004. On doing so he moved to Kawasaki Frontale, who then loaned him out for two successive years.
The first of those ended with Hulk having scored 25 goals in 38 games for Consadole Sapparo, whilst he was even more prolific when on loan to Tokyo Verdy for the 2006/2007 season, netting 37 times in 42 appearances to finish the season as the top scorer in Japan’s second division. Despite briefly returning to his parent club, Kawasaki Frontale, Hulk soon rejoined Tokyo Verdy on a permanent basis before being sold Porto in 2008.
Moving to Europe
Following four years with the Portuguese giants, for whom his goal-to-game scoring ratio was an impressive 0.52 – 89 goals in 170 games – in 2012 Hulk moved to Zenit for £32m. Subsequently he enjoyed four excellent seasons at the Russian club, with the most successful of those being the 2014/2015 campaign, when Hulk was the league’s top scorer with 15 goals and helped Zenit win the title.
Hulk joins several other high profile players, including Demba Ba, Gervinho, Jackson Martinez, Paulinho and Ramires in the Chinese Super League. It is currently midway through the 2016 season with almost every team having played half of their scheduled 30 games, with Hulk’s new team Shangai SIPG sitting fourth in the table, twelve points adrift of leaders Guangzhou Evergrande.