Despite spending €80-100 million to acquire Hulk and Axel Witsel before the transfer deadline, cash-infused Zenit St. Petersburg have had a run of mediocre results and bitterness is spreading among the club's lower-paid Russian players. Captain Igor Denisov has been banished to training with the reserve team over a wage dispute. And now Denisov has taken the issue to the media, with jabs at Hulk and Witsel as an added bonus.
"I'm not against foreign players but there must be a balance in the team," Russia captain Denisov told the Sport-Express daily.
"Yes, the club has bought good players but do you think they are so much better than us that they should make three times as much?"
Local media said midfielder Denisov was making 3m euros a year and was asking for a 2m euro raise.
"Zenit already have great players who have won as many titles as the new guys. I would understand if we got (Lionel) Messi or (fellow Barcelona player Andres) Iniesta. They would deserve any price," he added.
Jealousy like this might seem like an obvious byproduct of a club suddenly deciding to spend way, way more on new foreign players without fluffing the pillows of their existing roster, but Zenit don't seem very interested in details like that. Money can buy happiness, but only for the people who are getting the majority of it.
Hulk and Witsel should try and lighten the mood at Zenit by wearing "Messi" and "Iniesta" on their shirts for the rest of the season.
- Sports & Recreation
- Igor Denisov
- Axel Witsel