Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg paid €40 million each for Brazil striker Hulk from Porto and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel from Benfica, Zenit general director Maxim Mitrofanov told R-Sport on Thursday.
Following reports in the Portuguese media that the true transfer fees were far higher than the €40 million originally reported by Zenit, Mitrofanov showed R-Sport the sale contracts for the players, which show the fee for each as €40 million.
"This price reflects the market," Mitrofanov said, suggesting that reports to the contrary in Portugal were the result of competitive boasting at Porto and Benfica.
"Now you can see that in Portugal there's a tug of war going on between two clubs over who sold whom more profitably."
Benfica delayed selling Witsel, one of their standout players last season, under they were sure that Porto had sold Hulk, he said.
"The Benfica signature only appeared on the Witsel contract after they were convinced that Porto had sold us Hulk," he said.
Mitrofanov said he did not believe that the players were overpaid at Zenit. He did not specify their salaries, but said that they were comparable to Zenit's existing squad, specifying Portugal midfielder Miguel Danny as an example.
"The level of their wages is at the level of leading Zenit players, no more, no less," he said.
In addition, the Portuguese clubs could yet profit from the players depending on how much they are sold for in the future, Mitrofanov said.
"Porto receives 10 percent of Hulk's fee if the Brazilian's value at sale is higher than €70 million. Benfica receives 10 percent if Witsel is sold for a sum larger than €60 million."
Both Hulk and Witsel could debut for Zenit in the Russian league at home to Terek Grozny on September 14.