Axel Witsel Joins Zenit St. Petersburg

LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 24: Axel Witsel of SL Benfica scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg match between SL Benfica and FC Twente at Estadio da Luz on August 24, 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Zenit St. Petersburg have acquired 23-year-old midfielder Axel Witsel from Benfica, announcing the signing just hours after buying Hulk from Porto.

Paris Saint-Germain's astonishing raid on the Serie A is being replicated by Zenit St. Petersburg. This time, the target is Portugal. Zenit had already rocked the transfer boat with an extraordinary purchase on Monday, acquiring Porto's Hulk for a fee believed to be around €40 million, but they weren't done there -- their official site has just announced the capture of Belgian international Axel Witsel from Benfica.

The fee's reportedly very similar to the Hulk purchase, which, when you factor in the wages that the pair will be earning, is a pretty mind-blowing outlay for a club to be spending in one day. Zenit aren't going after fringe players, either -- both Witsel and Hulk are among the most coveted players in Europe, and they were able to lure them to the Russian Premier League.

In the short term, this will have a significant effect on the makeup of UEFA Champions League Group C, where Zenit are facing AC Milan, Anderlecht and Malaga. With Milan losing their two top players over the summer and Zenit spending a fortune on some elite talents, it's not out of the question at all that they're the best team in the group. In the long run, this will be a very interesting test for UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules. Like PSG, Zenit appear to be completely flouting them.

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