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Sep 26, 2012

Zenit reject wage concern

Zenit St Petersburg director general Maxim Mitrofanov has denied the club's star signings from abroad are paid more than their Russian players.

• Appell: Zenit's dilemma

Zenit players, led by Russia captain Igor Denisov, have voiced their concerns that the likes of Hulk and Axel Witsel, signed at exorbitant cost this summer, were earning significantly higher wages than the native players.

Denisov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who both broke into the Zenit first team in 2001, subsequently found themselves relegated to the reserve team as a result of their remarks. Mitrofanov has now said that there was no truth to their statements.

"There is no difference between the wages of the Russians and the wages of the foreigners," he said in Sport Express. "Our policy is to identify top quality European players and to offer them a good salary, but not one that is higher than that of our best Russian players. Guys like Kerzhakov and Shirokov earn about the same as Hulk and Danny."

On Witsel, he added: "His salary is considerably lower than Denisov's."

Mitrofanov said he expects Denisov to apologise for his complaints, although it is expected that both he and Kerzhakov will be back in the side for Saturday's Russian Premier League match against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Portugal defender Bruno Alves, who joined Zenit in 2010, said of the situation: "Of course, this is bad for everyone, but the team has to move on, improve performances and win games. As for their relegation to the reserve team, it's not something for me to discuss. It's an issue for the management."

Hulk, meanwhile, has spoken of the support he has felt from his new team-mates.

"The only thing I am thinking about is to make sure I am physically fit and can play well and help the team improve," he told RIA Novosti. "I feel I have had total support from all members of the team.

"I'm trying to adapt as quickly as possible to the team and the city of St Petersburg. I think I will be able to adapt over time although, of course, there are some difficulties in the fact that they speak Russian.

"Nonetheless, I feel good in the team and feel the support of all the players and everyone else at the club. I'm happy to be playing for Zenit."

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