High-profile Brazilian striker Hulk has confirmed his exit from Shanghai SIPG as four years at the Chinese Super League club ended in acrimony and a bust-up with the coach. The 34-year-old, whose contract reportedly ends this month, did not feature as SIPG went out of the AFC Champions League at the last 16 stage in Doha on Monday to an Andres Iniesta-inspired Vissel Kobe of Japan.
“Today is the day I say good bye to Shanghai SIPG, a team that made me feel at home,” Hulk wrote on China’s Weibo social media platform after the season-ending defeat, the former Porto star had been also left out of the three previous Champions League matches by coach Victor Pereira, who accused Hulk of lacking the “right spirit”. Skipper Hulk was substituted in the 1-0 group stage defeat to Yokohama F. Marinos last month and launched a verbal volley at the Portuguese coach before heading down the tunnel. Hulk, signed from Zenit St. Petersburg in 2016 for then Asian record 55.8 million euros, had made it clear prior to being dropped that he would not extend his SIPG contract.
The muscular striker did not refer to Pereira, who was linked with the managerial job at Premier League Everton last year, in his social media farewell. “During these more than four years I’m very grateful to the fans, who welcomed me so warmly,” said the Brazilian, who has made 48 appearances for his country, scoring 11 times, Hulk, who in 2018 captained SIPG to their only Chinese league title, also thanked his teammates and the club’s board, but there was no mention of Pereira, who masterminded the club to the 2018 triumph, and his statement instead carried a picture in the background of former SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas.
Team-mate Marko Arnautovic, the former West Ham United forward, replied: “Loved playing on the field with you. All the best for the future.” It ends a successful stay in China for Hulk, who remains one of the biggest signings in the history of Chinese football, he averaged a goal every two games for SIPG and was a fan favourite along with fellow Brazilian Oscar. He also encapsulated a period in which the CSL made worldwide headlines for expensive signings of big-name foreign players and coaches.