After stormy start, Hulk upbeat over Zenit future
Brazilian star striker Hulk is upbeat about his future at Zenit Saint Petersburg after a stormy start to life at the Russian Premier League club.
The Brazilian striker arrived at Zenit in September on a reported transfer of 60 million euros from Porto to spearhead the club's European ambitions but his high salary sparked a rebellion among Russian players.
Russia's national team captain Igor Denisov demanded a pay rise and walked out on the club for a month in protest at the salary paid to the 26-year-old forward.
The player at the centre of the controversy took time to settle, scoring just three goals in 11 league matches, two fewer than the yellow cards he picked up in the same period.
And last month he was involved in a row with Zenit's Italian manager Luciano Spalletti over his substitution in a Champions League match, threatening to quit the club in the January transfer window before patching things up.
Zenit finished the first part of the Russian championship in third on 38 points from 19 matches, five points behind leaders CSKA Moscow.
Next month they face English Premier League giants Liverpool in a two-leg clash for a place in the Europa League last 16.
And Hulk is looking forward to putting his troubles behind him and ending the season on a high, both for him personally and for the club in general.
"I came to Zenit when the Russian championship was already in full swing," he said in an interview with Zenit on Thursday.
"I had no time to adjust myself to the new league and to strike up an acquaintance with my new teammates. My first months in the new team were some kind of a reconnaissance. And it also became an adaptation period for me.
"I'm confident that the remainder of the season after the break will be much more successful. Now I feel much more comfortable here and, I believe, many things will be much more easier now."
He maintained that Zenit could still make an impact at home and on the European front.
"Both tournaments are very serious contests," he said.
"In Russia several strong clubs are battling for the title.
"Europa League is also very important for us. We will need to keep ourselves concentrated to go as far as possible there and maybe even to win it."
He also expressed his hope that he wolud get a call-up from Brazil's new coach Felipe Scolari.
"I will concentrate on the work in the club and I hope that my name will appear in Scolari's line-up. I can assure that I'm always ready to give all I have for the benefit of my national team," he said.
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