Porto star Hulk has been linked with a move to Chelsea for what seems like an age.

The valuations fluctuate, but Chelsea's interest seems to remain constant, as they look for a suitable replacement to fill the sizeable gap in their lineup left by Didier Drogba.

A recent poll conducted by GiveMeFootball asked Chelsea fans who they would like to see next in a Blue shirt at Stamford Bridge, and with 64% of the vote, Hulk was the overwhelming choice.

But not much is known about the enigma that is Givanildo Vieira de Souza, otherwise known as Hulk.

His career path is definitely the road less traveled, as the Brazilian, aged 19, emigrated to Japan to play in the country's second division. The unglamorous surroundings of Sapporo would be a culture shock for even the most seasoned traveler, but Hulk settled quickly, scoring 25 goals in his first full season.

His performances led to a move to the bright lights of the Japanese capital - a bigger market, but still a J League 2 club. Tokyo Verdy increased his exposure and 37 goals in 42 league appearances alerted European clubs 6000 miles away.

Like most South Americans, his player rights are divided up between a number of disparate interests, each keen to receive their piece of the pie when the eventual transfer takes place. And that pie has grown considerably over the last few seasons.

In 2008 it was reported that Porto paid around £5million for 50% of his rights, before later buying another 40% for close to £10million, but Porto, and Hulk's individual investors, stand to make a healthy profit should he move on. His buyout clause is now a reported £80million, although a fee closer to the £38million mark is often quoted.

It's not hard to see why. His old Brazil coach, Dunga summed his unique talents best. "It is hard to find a player with his characteristics," said the Brazilian World Cup winner. "Strength, power, he wins almost every one-on-one situation and can also decide a match with his shots from medium and long range."

His form for the Portuguese club saw him voted one of the world's top 10 rising stars by UEFA in 2009, after a string of scintillating performances in the Champions League. 57 league goals in 91 appearances since has seen his stock rise even further, with Chelsea the latest club reportedly set to sign the striker.

As for his nickname, there are several variations on the comic book theme. It was first thought that the bulky de Souza, squeezing into a skin tight, bright-green Tokyo Verdy shirt, resembled the giant Marvel superhero.

But, it turns out that the actual origin of the name comes from his father. Djovan de Souza, a huge fan of Lou Ferrigno, the actor who played the original 'Incredible Hulk', gave his young son the nickname, and it has stuck ever since.

On the pitch it has done his fearsome reputation no harm. Three league titles, three Portuguese Cups and a Europa League have led to a hero worship-like status among the Porto fans.

Early last year the departure of Villas-Boas, and strike partner Radamel Falcao, heaped the pressure on Hulk to deliver. Add to that the added expectancy associated with the club's captaincy, and his record last season becomes even more impressive.

Rejected by Sao Paulo and Corinthians as a youngster, Hulk has taken the round-a-bout route to stardom. But now, as a fully fledged Brazilian international and a Champions League veteran, the Porto forward looks to be on the cusp of greatness.

Chelsea would offer some of the comforts of home for Hulk, a few friendly faces from his past, and a Portuguese speaking contingent almost as large as the English-speaking group.

Ramires and David Luiz have set the precedent and each made the jump from Portugal to Premier League, adapting well to the rigours of the English top flight. Add to that the relationship between Porto and Chelsea - the Blues have bought Ricardo Carvalho, Jose Bosingwa and Paulo Ferreira, not to mention Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas, in recent years - and Hulk's most likely destination looks to be west London.

But a move to Stamford Bridge would bring with it pressures all on its own. The Premier League is a considerable step-up from the Portuguese League, and the striker was widely criticised for his theatrical performances against Manchester City in last season's Europa League.

And whoever comes into Chelsea as the next big-money striker will inevitably face comparisons with Didier Drogba. So no pressure then for whoever Roman Abramovich decides to sign.

But if it's Hulk, Chelsea can rest assured that the Brazilian has never shirked a challenge, and wouldn't be likely to start now.

In recent days he's intimated that Chelsea is his preferred destination, in the process resisting the overtures of PSG. So he likes Chelsea, and Chelsea reportedly like him. It seems like a match made in heaven.

Topics:
#Didier Drogba
#Football
#David Luiz
#Chelsea
#Premier League
#Ramires