Football Leaks has once again released information regarding a Zenit Saint Petersburg player. On January 20 Football Leaks uploaded the transfer details on Hulk’s move from FC Porto to Zenit—the striker moved from Portugal to Russia in September 2012 in a transfer that was worth €55 million (find the contract here), as well as the transfer of Argentinian defender Ezequiel Garay, who was transferred from Benfica Lisbon to Zenit for €6 million in the summer of 2014 (find the contract here).
This time the contract in question is the transfer agreement for Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, who was transferred from Benfica Lisbon to Zenit Saint Petersburg on September 3 2012 for €40 million (a sum that has now been confirmed in the leaked contract, which can be found here).
The €40 million was paid in two instalments of €20 million each—the first on September 7 2012, and the second on January 1 2013. Furthermore, Benfica also secured a clause that would see Zenit pay Benfica a certain percentage of possible transfer of Witsel away from Zenit that was worth more than €50 million.
In the case that Zenit sold Witsel for an excess of €50 million the Russian would have had to pay 10% of the money received to Benfica. The contract further read that “If Zenit receives a transfer compensation over €60,000,000 (…), FC Zenit shall pay €1,000,000 and an amount equal to 50% of the difference between the transfer compensation actually received and €60,000,000.
In other words Zenit would have benefited little from a future transfer of Witsel. Hence, on April 14 2014 Zenit purchased the sale on clause from Benfica for an additional €3 million, which means that Zenit will now receive the full transfer fee on any possible transfer of Axel Witsel to a third club—Witsel has most recently been linked with a move to Italy.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Witsel transfer is the fact that Zenit also had the option to purchase Benfica’s Argentinean left-winger Nicolás Gaitán, who was valued at €16 million for €20 million, as well as the Portuguese striker Nélson Oliveira—who now plays for Nottingham Forrest in England’s Football League Championship—for €30 million until February 1 2013.
In the end Zenit chose not to purchase either player. In the case of Nélson Oliveira this can be explained by his drop in form since the fall of 2012 as the once promising talent was never able to fully develop his potential. Nicolás Gaitán was linked with a move to several clubs—including Zenit—over the last few years, and now it appears that the rumours regarding Zenit had significant substance.
It is unclear why Zenit did not to exercise the right to purchase the talented Argentinean before February 1 2013, his exit clause at Benfica is now worth €45 million, hence €20 million would have been a good deal at the time. But perhaps Gaitán and Zenit could never agree to personal terms.