2 years, 6 months, and 21 days ago Dagestani Billionaire Suleyman Kerimov purchased his home-town club of FC Anzhi Makhachkala for an undisclosed amount. Since the purchase, the club has spent over 194 million Euros on new signings in a bid to dominate the Russian Premier League. Unlike other “get-rich” clubs, the Orlovs failed to earn any silverware. Former treble winning manager Guus Hiddink left the club two games into the current season leaving former Manchester United coach René Meulensteen in charge.
Last night, Anzhi Chairman Konstantin Remchukov’s personal Twitter account declared publicly the club’s future intentions. After 16 days at work Meulensteen was fired for the second time in three months as Gadzhi Gadzhiyev was installed as the new manager. In future tweets, Remchukov made mention of a changing strategy in the Dagestani club’s direction pushing youth prospects to the forefront and putting Europe’s clubs on high alert.
Remchukov signaled the end of big money signings of some of Europe’s top talents. The change comes after a string of poor results with Anzhi losing 2 and drawing 2 of their first 4 games. Club infighting due to inflated wages for certain players and poor performances as well as Dagestani and Russian fans’ xenophobic and racist tendencies which did nothing to provide stability for the club’s foreign imports.
Samuel Eto’o, Willian, Lacina Traore, Lassana Diarra, Jucilei, Aleksandr Kokorin, Igor Denisov, and recent returnee Christopher Samba were all transfer listed including four of the Starting XI of August 2nd’s loss to FC Rostov. Anzhi is home to some talented footballers, albeit on inflated wages, who are now currently looking for a new club. Tottenham could look to snatch up a player or two if the fee and wages are reasonable.
Samuel Eto’o is on wages that exceed 400,000 Euros a week a simply appalling number and if the Cameroon international is keen on a move he will have to at least cut his wage in half. The former Barcelona man could be a target for another “get-rich” club in the south of France as a backup to Falcao.
Former Gunner Lassana Diarra has built a career on versatility and his ability to adapt his playing style. Diarra has played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs based solely on his reputation of adaptability while lacking the skills to excel at a high level at any particular position. If the transfer of Capoue is indeed completed then Diarra, Jucilei, and Igor Denisov would be unnecessary transfers.
However three names from the Anzhi squad stick out and should at least be tracked, those players are Willian, Lacina Traore, and Aleksandr Kokorin.
Willian is a Brazilian international who started his career for the Brazilian Serie A club Corinthians. He turned a professional at age of 18 and after an impressive first season Shakhtar Donetsk’s scouts secured his services for 14 Million Euros. During his stint with the Ukrainian club, Willian earned 4 Ukrainian Premier League titles, 3 league cups, 3 community shields, and a 2009 Europa League title. The Brazilian plays as an attacking midfielder possessing all the ability one would expect from a Brazilian. Willian’s preferred position is left wing as his pace and ball control can leave defenders in his wake. Willian is known for his set-piece ability and was lead free kick taker for his previous clubs. During his time with Shakhtar, Willian gained Euopean experience and impressed with his displays. To sign the 24 year old, Tottenham would have to sell Gareth Bale as Tottenham’s previous transfers have exceeded the 50 Million in the bank that was touted at the beginning of the summer. Willian would be the most expensive transfer of the three.
Aleksandr Kokorin and Lacina Traore are two distinctly different strikers. Kokorin is a 24 year old from Moscow. He scored the single goal to beat Celtic in a Champions League qualifying match. Just a month ago, Anzhi triggered the young Russian’s release clause but have subsequently put him on the transfer list. The legality of Anzhi’s actions will be investigated but for the time being, Kokorin is a young talented forward who could move for a cut-rate price. The more interesting target is the 6’8 monster that is Lacina Traore. The Ivorian moved to CFR Cluj in 2008 from Stade d’Abidjan, then to Kuban Krasnodar, before moving to Anzhi Makhachkala. At 23 years old, Traore’s total transfer amounts have exceeded 30 Million. Traore’s strength is unmatched; the Ivorian would have little issue with the tough nature of English Premier League football. It goes without saying that Lacina Traore is a good header of the ball. For perspective, Traore is over a foot taller than Aaron Lennon and taller than Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Peter Crouch. His maturity is a concern but Andre Villas-Boas could be the man to ground the Ivorian giant.
Overall, the parable of Anzhi Makhachkala is an important one for world football. Sometimes the desire to succeed surpasses common sense and that is surely the case for Anzhi. Any club that would pay 12.3 Million pounds for Christopher Samba to then sell him to QPR for 12.5 Million pounds, then publicly mock QPR, only to then buy Samba back for 12 Million deserve to fail. Willian and Lacina Traore are the most realistic targets of Anzhi’s fire sale. Willian would be expensive around the price paid for Valencia striker Soldado. He is a player of immense talent who could either take over for Gareth Bale or complement the Welshman. Lacina Traore would be much cheaper and fulfill a still barren position for Tottenham. Traore’s frame would cause match-up problems and add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack.
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