Getting Brazilian striker Hulk into a Chelsea shirt has proved mission impossible for the Blues over the years, but with talk that the 27-year-old is unhappy with life at Zenit Saint Petersburg emerging, now may be their best chance to wrestle him into one.
Hulk, a transfer target for Chelsea since Andre Villas-Boas' reign, signed for Zenit in 2012 for a reported €60 million and has scored 16 goals in 33 league appearances for the Russian club. Despite that impressive return, Hulk's agent Shandor Varga told the Izvestia newspaper that his player is ready to move on and that England will be his likely destination, as per the Metro:
Despite the huge transfer fee required to sign Hulk, don’t rule out that he will move to one of the top clubs in Europe this summer. English clubs still have the highest chance of signing him.
With Samuel Eto'o, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres just not quite cutting the mustard at Chelsea, it's no secret that manager Jose Mourinho will be after a world-class striker in the summer to add the remaining pieces of his talented puzzle at Stamford Bridge. And in Hulk, Mourinho may well have found his man.
A £40 million price tag doesn't attach itself to a player without just cause, and Hulk justifies it with his lightning pace, expert finishing ability and the kind of strength that his incredible namesake would be proud of. During his four-year spell with Porto, he netted 54 league goals to warrant his big-money move to Zenit, where his goalscoring figures have once again shown Chelsea what they're missing out on.
Looking at Torres, Eto'o and Ba this season, the trio has scored just 14 league goals between them, with only Eto'o eclipsing the five-goal mark. Meanwhile, Hulk has nine league goals in just 15 appearances.
I know that the Russian Premier League doesn't offer the same standard of football as the Premier League, but with service coming from the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian, what's the excuse for the Chelsea front men?
Take Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic, for example, he's talented, but his goals tend to come from another player's brilliance rather than his own. With the "three amigos" in the Chelsea midfield, the chance is there for a striker to earn the "prolific" tag.
While Juan Mata didn't fit into the Mourinho system, Hulk wouldn't have the same problem in blue.
Chelsea are very much an "on the floor" team that dissects defences rather than forcing their way through them with target men, and with the skill that Hulk has at his feet, he'd be perfect for the forward role. Elegant as he is on the ball, he still has strength and know-how to bulldoze his way through a back line when he needs to.
At 27 years of age, Hulk is still young and enjoying the prime of his career. With Mourinho looking to cement Chelsea's place amongst Europe's elite, landing a player like Hulk to lead the line would be a step in the right direction. There's just the small matter of coughing up £40 million to deal with.
Statistics via soccerway.com.