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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Zenit St Petersburg sign Hernani from Atletico Paranaense

Zenit St Petersburg have signed Brazil centre-back Hernani from Atletico Paranaense, the Russian club said on Friday.

Hernani, 22, has signed a five-year deal with the club, who are currently second in the Russian Premier League table.

Hernani scored six goals in 30 matches this past season with Atletico, and Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu had personally sought out the young Brazilian prospect in the face of persistent rumours that Axel Witsel is headed to Juventus.

"This year I've proved myself at Atletico Paranaense," Hernani said. "I've scored some goals and I'm particularly good at long shots.

"Of course Mr. Lucescu was a big part of my transition and I've been in touch with him. I know he has been watching me play. Now I want to start to perform for Zenit as soon as possible."

Zenit, who face Anderlecht in February in the round of 32, already have two Brazilians on their squad -- Mauricio and Giuliano.

"I once played against Giuliano in Brazil, when he was playing for Gremio," Hernani said. "Personally, we do not know each other. But I know that Giuliano comes from where I am now playing -- Curitiba. I think when we meet I will learn a lot from him about Zenit and St. Petersburg."

The Gazprom-sponsored team are six points behind Spartak Moscow in the Russian League table.

"To join this club is a dream and now I've done it. Now my main task to do a good job and help my new teammates.

"I've never lived in cold conditions, although a couple of times I've played at a low temperature. In any case, I will adapt to the climatic conditions and play for Zenit."

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