This week’s instalment of famous football takeovers looks at the formerly unknown Russian club, Anzhi Makhachkala, who have had a turbulent couple of years to say the least.
Anzhi are a Russian club based in Dagestan. They are a relatively young club, having only been around since 1991. There was nothing overly special about the fledgling club. They spent a lot of their playing time outside the top tier of Russian football and were not really much a threat to the bigger clubs of the country, like Zenit or CSKA Moscow, for example.
In January 2011, Anzhi were in the Russian Premier League after gaining promotion several years previous. Everything changed since then, however. The club was bought by local billionaire, Suleyman Kerimov. Kerimov is a vastly wealthy business man, who is estimated to have a net worth of approximately $7.1 billion. This was massive news for the Anzhi supporters. Kerimov came in with big ambitions, which were evident when he begin making a number of huge signings, paticularly Samuel Eto’o.
Eto’o was reportedly earning a salary of £350,000 per week, the highest salary of any football player in history. That accompanied with a transfer fee in excess of £20 million meant that the club was beginning to rack up quite a large amount, in terms of costs. Other famous faces in the football world followed. These include Roberto Carlos, who won the World Cup in 2002, Christopher Samba, signed from English Premier League side, Blackburn, Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea and also Willian from Shakhtar Donetsk for €35 million. Along with all of these lucrative, big money transfers was the managerial appointment of Guus Hiddink, a world renowned coach. This was obviously an unreliable business model and was sure to eventually cease. That is exactly what happened in 2013.
In 2013, things took a major turn for the worse for the club. There manager was gone and less than a month later it was said that a massive overhaul of players was about to take place in the club. It was decided that club would only be spending approximately £60 million pounds a season, as opposed to the average spend of £180 million per year since Kerimov acquired the club. The overhaul of players really badly dented any realistic attempt that Anzhi would be able to make for the title the next season. Most of the big name stars were shipped out, mainly to some league rivals of theirs, like Dynamo Moscow, Spartak Moscow and Zenit, to name a few. Willian, who had only joined the club less than a year before was sold to Chelsea, alongside Samuel Eto’o.
The lack of quality available for the coaching staff was now evident, as out of the twenty-two players bought since the takeover, only five remain. Anzhi are currently languishing bottom of the division having only won a single game in the entire season. I think it is clear that this takeover has not gone according to plan for any of the parties involved.
Michael McKenna, Pundit Arena.