Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why Porto should accept a big-money offer for Chelsea & Paris Saint-Germain target Hulk

All over Europe, clubs are working around the clock to make use of their pennies to sign that one player they hope can salvage their season. And for every club desperate for a boost to their attack, Hulk seems to fit the bill.

After all, the Brazil international is just not your every day attacker: it seems impossible for a man so strong and muscular to have such agility, technique and speed, but the 25-year-old has managed it. Signed from modest Japanese side Tokyo Verdy in 2008, Hulk has become an integral part of the team, and all over Europe clubs are interested in getting their hands on him.

However, Porto have moved heaven and earth to make sure that does not happen. In August 2009, the Europa League holders offered him an improved contract, but in return he had to agree to a €100 million (£82.5m) release clause - a strategy frequently used used by the top Portuguese teams. Ever since then, Porto president Pinto da Costa has guaranteed that the club will not settle for less.

But are the Portuguese champions right to hold out for a figure which would make him the highest-ever transfer in the game? According to a report published by Brazilian accountancy firm Pluri, which is based on objective criteria (age, marketing and physical condition, among others) and subjective criteria (technical quality, tactical discipline, decision-making, etc), Hulk is only the fourth most valuable player in the Brazil national team at €31m (£25.6m) - less than one third of what Porto are demanding.

In addition to Hulk's price tag being unreasonable, there are other variables which Porto should consider when they receive an offer for the powerful striker, the first of which being his state of mind. 

While the player has never said he is unhappy with life at the Estadio do Dragao, his constant come-and-get-me pleas to his big-money suitors show that the 25-year-old believes Porto are becoming a closed chapter for him. After almost four years at the club, he feels he has won everything there is to win with Os Dragoes, including European silverware.

It is also debatable whether Hulk is 100 per cent committed to Porto after watching Radamel Falcao leave the club in the summer, while every offer that arrived for him was immediately rejected. His contract shackles him to the club and it is with little surprise that his focus has been questioned this season as Vitor Pereira's side have been world's apart from Andre Villas-Boas' 2010-11 team.

But even more important than Hulk's mindset is the club's financial state. In the season in which Porto have spent the largest sum in their history - €42.5m (£35.1m) - in acquisitions, they bowed out of the Champions League in the group stage and do not look life a safe bet for the Portuguese Liga title. Last season saw Porto make just €7.8m (£6.4m) from their Europa League campaign, which shows that big-money opportunities only lie in Europe's premier club competition.

With Porto currently in the market to sign a new striker after their disastrous handling in their search for Falcao's replacement, the club may soon have to sell some of their biggest assets to balance their books, and Hulk is topping the list. The club's finances have made headlines in the last months after they fell behind on payments for Santos' Danilo and for Standard Liege duo Eliaquim Mangala and Steven Defour. Porto are starting to earn a reputation as a bad buyer and they will need to raise funds in the summer to rebuild the squad after an early exit in the Champions League.

Even though Hulk is their best player, Porto will have to consider parting with the 25-year-old, otherwise they risk watching him grow unsettled. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are known to be tracking the striker, and Porto should not think twice if an offer in the excess of €40m (£33m) comes along - and there is still plenty of time before the end of the winter transfer window to find a replacement for the Brazilian.

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