Team: Shanghai SIPG
Former team: Zenit St. Petersburg
Hulk, like many other players in the Chinese Super League this season, should be quite well known to the European audience. He played well for Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia and Porto in Portugal, as well as in the Champions League, for eight years before moving to Shanghai SIPG and China.
But even though most people know Givanildo Vieira de Souza, which is his full name, from his days in Europe, this Chinese adventure is not Hulk’s first travels to Asia.
Before coming to Porto Hulk spent two and a half seasons in the Japanese J-League, the former big market for players in Asia. He went to Kawasaki Frontale from Esporte Clube Vitória in his homeland in 2005.
He spent most of his time at Kawasaki out on loan, first at Sapporo and then he spent the 2007 season at second tier Tokyo Verdy where he helped them gain promotion by scoring a massive 14 goals in only 10 games.
The loan move to Tokyo was made permanent in April 2008 but he didn’t spend long there as Porto came in for him in July and bought him for £16m. All in all, he scored eight goals in 20 matches in the Japanese top division J1. That might not sound like that much, but he scored seven of those eight goals in the 11 games he got at Tokyo from April to July.
Hulk then spent a few great years at Porto before moving to Zenit in 2012 where he continued to score for fun.
His total statistic is simply incredible. He played 317 games for Porto and Zenit and scored 154 goals. On top of that he also had 120 assists.
These great statistics was the reason Shanghai SIPG bought him from Zenit for £47m but his first half a season in China was hampered by injury. He spent six of the fourteen games he was eligible for out injured but scored four in the final six games of the season.
Hulk has started this season well, in the AFC Champions League he’s scored three and assisted three in the three group stage matches where Shanghai topped their group. In the league, he has one goal and two assists in the first two games of the season, as Shanghai tops this table as well.
Hulk looks to have settled during the off-season and Shanghai SIPG fans could have a lot to look forward to this season.