Zenit Saint Petersburg's Portuguese defender Bruno Alves has said that the infighting at the big-spending Russian champions was doing no one any good and expressed hope that the feuding would stop.
The key Russian players in the side, Igor Denisov and Alexander Kerzhakov, have been relegated to the youth team after demanding higher wages in a revolt over the expensive signings of Brazil's Hulk and Belgium's Axel Witsel. "What is happening is not doing anyone any good," Alves told the Sport Express daily as he broke his silence over the scandal that is threatening to blow the team apart.
He described the standoff, which started last week when Denisov and Kerzhakov refused to take to the pitch for the first team or take part in training, "as a big and unpleasant surprise". "Igor had not missed a single game until then and he is a very important player for our team."
Alves - clearly seeking to appear diplomatic - called for a solution that would see the new foreign imports and the Russian stars take to the pitch in harmony. "I hope a solution will be found that is acceptable for everyone. Zenit needs all its players," he added.
However, the Portugal national team star spoke out in favour of the signing of Hulk and Witsel, saying it would give the team a "new impulse". Hulk and Witsel's transfers from Porto and Benfica respectively are reported to have been worth €100 million ($130 million) and were aimed at making Zenit one of the best teams in Europe. However, infighting has dogged the team since and they currently lie in fifth position in the Russian Premier League.