By Martin Lipton
Chelsea’s hopes of landing Brazil star Hulk seem to be over after Zenit St Petersburg offered to pay £40million for the striker.
The Blues have refused to budge beyond their £30m valuation of the Porto man, and withdrew from negotiations in the hope that Hulk and his agent would force the Portuguese champions to come back to the table at a more realistic price.
But the involvement of Zenit, who have also offered to throw in Portugal central defender Bruno Alves as part of the deal, blows Chelsea’s hopes of a change of heart by Porto out of the water.
Ironically, Zenit are owned by Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom, who were recently announced as a sponsor of Chelsea.
While Hulk – real name Givanildo Vieira de Souza – appears keen to leave Porto, his agent Teodoro Fonseca has hinted that the Premier League is not the be-all and end-all for his client.
Fonseca said of the 26-year-old, who has been representing his country at the Olympics: “Sometimes we want a player to continue, but the conditions do not allow it to happen.
“Who would not play in the Premier League, for Chelsea or one of the other big clubs?
“But sometimes clubs have to give up a right, a player or a person in order to keep the whole structure.
“People come and go and the clubs continue.”
In contrast, Chelsea seem closer to landing Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta, despite also being poised to confirm the arrival of Brazilian youngster Wallace, who plays the same position for Fluminense.
Marseille, who could use the money after finishing a lowly 10th in Ligue 1 last year, want £8.5m for the Spaniard.
Their sporting director, Jose Anigo, admitted: “Like everyone else, we have to sell before we can buy.
“That means either Azpilicueta or [centre-back] Stephane M’Bia will have to go. Azpilicueta has the profile to go to a big club.
“Every club must count its money.”