When Andre Villas-Boas got the Chelsea job in 2011 one of the first names linked to follow him from his successful Porto side was Hulk. It didn’t come to pass. Last summer, Chelsea were linked to Hulk once again. It didn’t come to pass. This summer, they are being linked to Hulk yet again. And their fans should be hoping that this story follows the familiar pattern. Only this time, he has said ‘If I said there wasn’t anything in it, I would be lying. But that is not for now.’ Are Chelsea really about to sign a wide forward to play centre forward?
If Chelsea do want to sign a striker, and all signs say they do, the quality of names they are being linked with is bafflingly low or with players who don’t play the position. They’ve been linked most strongly to Man City cast-off Edin Dzeko, Fiorentina attacking midfielder Steven Jovetic and Hulk. There is Gonzalo Higuain on the market and even closer to home, the returning Romelu Lukaku. On top of this, they are expected to sign yet another attacking midfielder/forward type in André Schürrle. It all seems like a bit of a messy process and would indicate an unusually scruffy transfer policy for Chelsea compared to recent years. But one thing is for sure, amongst this group, Hulk is definitely not the answer.
There are two key reasons that he is so wrong for Chelsea. Firstly, he’s not a central striker. His positional versatility is limited to the right hand side of a three man forward line. Not only does he not fit Chelsea’s need, they don’t even play the system that he can almost exclusively play in. The reason he is so position limited is that he is a one trick pony. His sole attacking device is to get the ball on the right, cut inside and try to smash the ball with left foot. Does that sound like a basic Arjen Robben perhaps? Well, imagine Chelsea eyeing up Robben to play as the lone striker. Would that not be considered ridiculous?
Secondly, the transfer fee is insane. Last summer Zenit St. Petersburg paid £50m for Hulk and the football world was stunned, staggered and amused in equal measure. They had to pay a premium because they were buying from Porto and because they were buying very late in the transfer window. Ask Monaco about buying from Porto and ask Liverpool about buying late in the transfer window. See; Carroll, Andy.
The price was absurdly inflated. Now, Chelsea are being talked about as offering £35m for Hulk. £35m?! It’s unfathomable. Zenit would be swallowing a £15m loss in one year, and more critically, he’s just not worth that much money. Before Villas-Boas’ single season at Porto transformed his career, his highest league return was eight goals. In Portugal. The season after AVB and Falcao left Porto he scored 16 domestic goals and has got seven in Russia. With respect, these aren’t the best leagues in Europe we’re talking about. Luis Suarez cost Liverpool £24m after scoring 35 goals in Holland. Even at his peak Hulk’s highest was 23. Is this a career record that screams out £35m?
In other words, his last calendar year compares unfavourably with Fernando Torres. Perhaps that is the starkest way of phrasing it. If Chelsea lay out this much for a player of no positional need, no proven record of scoring in major competitions, the year Porto won the Europa League it was Falcao getting the goals, Hulk only got two in that run, and for this crazy fee it will be at odds with their recent policy. He’s a one-season wonder, who only has one trick in his arsenal. If they sign him they are blocking the path of Romelu Lukaku to the first team and still not addressing their search for regular striker in the process. But, he can smash a free-kick sometimes.