European Soccer

Monday Ticker: Zenit lands dynamic duo Hulk and Witsel, Liverpool owner addresses fan concerns, & more



After weeks of speculation on where the Brazilian striker would end up, the aptly named Hulk is headed east to FC Zenit Saint Petersburg. This comes just days after his current club, FC Porto, reportedly declined a rumored €50 million offer.

Following that offer, speculation grew that he could be headed to Stamford Bridge to play for the Blues of Chelsea. However, Chelsea bowed out due to the significant amount of money FC Porto was demanding. But the persistent Russian club continued thier discussions with FC Porto, making the move official in an announcement posted on their website this afternoon.

Also headed to the St. Petersburg club is Belgian international Axel Witsel. He too will be leaving Portugal, as he leaves Benfica after one season with the club. The midfielder's buyout clause is said to be around €40 million. Benfica signed Witsel away from Standard Liege for just €6.5 million last year.

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After a rough start to the Premier League season, with Liverpool opening 0-1-2, Liverpool owner John W Henry has gone to the task of writing a letter to Reds fans to declare the season is not lost.

This comes just days after the club dropped a 2-0 match to Arsenal, and after a transfer window that closed without the signing of American Clint Dempsey, who was linked to the club for months.

Henry wrote "No one should doubt our commitment to the club. In Brendan Rodgers, we have a talented young manager, and we have valued highly his judgement about the make-up of the squad. This is a work in progress. It will take time for Brendan to instill his philosophy into the squad and build exactly what he needs for the long term."

You can read a full transcript of the letter here.


The Newcastle United manager was suspended for two matches following an investigation that found the former Manager of the Year guilty of improper conduct after shoving an assistant referee against Tottenham in the season-opening match on August 18th.

He will also be fined £20,000 for the infraction. With the suspension taking place immediately, Pardew will miss the next two matches, as the Magpies will take on Everton on September 17th, and Norwich City on September 22nd.


After leaving Manchester United for Fulham last week before the end of the summer transfer window, forward Dimitar Berbatov has made it clear what his opinion of his former manager in Sir Alex Ferguson is. The Bulgarian spoke with reporters following his debut for his new club.

"I don't think I deserved such treatment at United – with not playing in the last year," said Berbatov. "I went more than 10, probably 15, times to ask the coach if they need me. And every time I was told that I'm an important player and should not leave, but then again I was not in the team."

He also declared that he is not frustrated that he will no longer be playing in the Champions League, stating "It won't kill me not to play in the Champions League anymore. I want to play football, to enjoy the game."


Even after a successful weekend for AC Milan, with a 3-1 victory over Bologna over the weekend, the negatives still continue to find their way into the Rossoneri's season. After losing Alexandero Pato, Robinho, and Ignazio Abate to injury earlier in the year, the Italian club will now be without Riccardo Montolivo and Kevin-Prince Boateng for at least the next three-four weeks.

Montolivo suffered the injury during the match against Bologna, as he was kicked in his thigh, forcing him to be carted off the field in a stretcher. Meanwhile, Boateng played the entire match, but broke a bone his hand, requiring him to undergo surgery.


Barrera suffered a torn ACL in Cruz Azul's match against Pachuca on Saturday, forcing the forward to undergo season-ending surgery. The Mexican international was expected to be called up for El Tri's pair of upcoming matches against Costa Rica on September 7th and 11th.


What do you think of Zenit breaking the bank for Hulk and Witsel? What do you make of Henry's letter to Liverpool fans? Surprised to hear Berbatov sound off on Ferguson?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Alex

    wow Barrera out is a huge loss. I remember him terrorizing the flanks in the Gold Cup final against the US. Didn’t help that Bornstein was playing left back.


  • Jamie

    Is Zenit in the Champions League this year? They should do well with these acquisitions if they are.


  • Paul

    The Liverpool debacle is amazing. No real recognized strikers and Rogers pushed Carroll out the door. He talked about loaning him out as soon as he got the job, thus talking down his value. The idea that Carroll cannot fit in Roger’s style says more about Rogers than Carroll. There is a lot more to Carroll’s game than his aerial game. That he was over-priced is hardly his fault. I wonder who though Dempsey wasn’t worth 6 million pounds? Who over rules the manager in football judgements? It all augers ill for the future. Liverpool’s season is over before it begins and finishing 8 th again will be an accomplishment.


  • Northzax

    Shorter John Henry: ‘we won’t spend the money to compete. (see:Boston Red Sox) hopefully we’ll develop five more Stevie Gerrards and be fine. Otherwise, get used to top ten finishes’ rich clubs don’t talk about how great Fair Play is.


  • Old School

    Barrera terrorized the left flanks BECAUSE of Bornstein.

    Do you remember Barrera terrorizing the left flanks on August 15th?

    Me either…no Bornstein. The Gold Cup was ours, IF NOT, for Bornstein.


  • Shmenge

    How many Brazilians/Argentines or Western Europeans stay at a level to play with their national teams once they’ve gone to Russia or Ukraine?

    Good for Hulk to get the money, but he’s done on the national team.


  • Brandon Snodgers

    Outstanding post, Paul. The last two sentences I think you’ll at least admit are speculation. Otherwise, everything up until that point, it’s bang on.


  • Wendell Gee

    That’s nonsense. I remember a Brazilian national team game that featured 3 guy from CSKA Moscow – Wagner Love, Jo, and I forget the third. But it was moving to Man City FROM CSKA that finished Jo’s career with Brazil.

    Then there’s Elano at Shaktar Donetsk. And those are just off the top of my head.


  • abc

    lol good one.

    When was the last time that guy actually stepped on a soccer field during a game?


  • fortunate only

    Barrera wasn’t only playing against Bornstein during the Gold Cup Final. He often drifted centrally and constantly skipped right past Bradley, Jones and the two centerbacks that game, Bocanegra and Goodson. Same for Giovani dos Santos.

    If your logic were even fractionally correct, then we’re worse off than I thought since we got played off the pitch that day. Losing the Gold Cup final had little to do with Bornstein or Cherundolo since Mexico threatened both flanks from the start, it was a piss poor team effort and there is nothing else to say other than the better team won that day.


  • fortunate only

    Another one who can’t see things for what they are.

    Keep thinking the reason we lost the Gold Cup final was because Cherundolo was injured.


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