London calling: Zenit star Hulk flies to capital after Spalletti sacking
Zenit St Petersburg and Brazil attacker Hulk has fuelled speculation once again that he could be on his way to Chelsea after he posted a picture of himself on a plane bound for London.
This came mere hours after Russian Premier League heavyweights Zenit sacked head coach Luciano Spalletti and replaced him with assistant Sergey Semak on an interim basis.
Hulk, 27, joined Zenit for a reported £32m on a five-year contract from Porto in September 2012, but was heavily linked with joining odds-on 5/6 Premier League title favourites Chelsea that summer.
Rumours persist that he could be on his way to Stamford Bridge after he said he was travelling to England for “work” with personal manager Teo Fonseca.
A number of Hulk’s compatriots and international teammates play for Jose Mourinho at the Blues. Defender David Luiz and midfield trio Oscar, Ramires and Willian are all Chelsea regulars.
Despite averaging better than a goal every two games (13 in 24) for Zenit this term, Hulk’s club side have only won one of their last 11 games in all competitions.
That poor run of form either side of the winter break resulted in the dismissal of Italian gaffer Spalletti.
Former Roma and Udinese boss Spalletti won two top-flight titles and the Russian Cup in St Petersburg, but that and a 57.5 per cent winning ratio (103 victories from 179 matches in charge) could not save him from the sack.
Successor Semak, who retired from playing last season and captained Russia at Euro 2008, must attempt to overturn a 4-2 deficit in Zenit’s Champions League tie with Borussia Dortmund – beaten finalists at Wembley last term.
The Russians must score three away goals without reply in the Wesfalenstadion (a 200/1 shot with Coral) if they are to progress in Europe. Zenit are 8/1 outsiders for victory in Dortmund and 20/1 to advance to the quarter-finals on March 19th.
Hulk, who has eight goals (all in friendlies) in 33 caps for his country, is a regular for Brazil boss Phil Scolari. You can back him to win the World Cup Golden Boot on home soil this summer at 33/1.