Anzhi Makhachkala: Profiling Russia's Manchester City Chasing Cristiano Ronaldo
It's been a month since Anzhi Makhachkala shocked the footballing world by signing Samuel Eto'o and for people not familiar with Russian football—which is a lot of people—who exactly are Anzhi Makhachkala?
Remember a few seasons ago when obscure Uzbeki club Bunyodkor, Rivaldo's former club, made headlines for submitting some outrageous transfer bids?
In a way, that's like Anzhi Makhachkala, except the Russian club have walked the walk.
Here is a in-depth profile of Anzhi Makhachkala.
Anzhi Makhachkala's History
Sir Alex Ferguson has managed more years for Manchester United than Anzhi Makhachkala has operated.
Created in 1991, a year before the formation of the Premier League, Anzhi Makhachkala have little history.
Having played a few years in the Russian Premier League, Anzhi Makhachkala dropped back into mediocrity, only to be promoted back into the Russian Premier League last year.
Early this year, Suleyman Kerimov bought out the club, creating the Kerimov era.
Where Are Anzhi Makhachkala Located?
Anzhi Makhachkala are based in Makhachkala, the capital of the Republic of Dagestan, a province in Russia.
The Dagestani people are predominantly Islamic to which Russians are a small minority.
Dagestan are part of the troubled North Caucasus region where there is a lingering sentiment towards separation from Russia.
Dokka Umarov, the self-proclaimed Emir of the Russian North Caucasus, has been leading guerrilla warfare against the Russian government.
As a result of the dangerous environment, Anzhi Makhachkala reside and train in Moscow, only flying out to Makhachkala to play home games.
The Owner: Suleyman Kerimov
With an estimated fortune of $7.8 billion Suleyman Kerimov is a 45-year-old self-made Russian billionaire.
According to Forbes, Kerimov sold basically all his shares in oil and gas company Gazprom (who sponsor Zenit Saint Petersburg, Schalke and Red Star Belgrade), Russian bank Sberbank and Moscow real estate just before the 2008 Russian financial meltdown.
Since 2008, Kerimov has invested in several European banks like Fortis and is a majority shareholder of Uralkali, a significant producer of potassium fertilisers in Russia.
Translation: Kerimov is probably going to get richer.
As a Dagestan-born native, it made sense for him to purchase Anzhi Makhachkala in January this year.
Like Roman Abramovich (Chelsea), Sheikh Mansour (Manchester City) and Sheikh Abdullah (Málaga); Kerimov is in the business of owning a football club not to make money but to have fun.
It's a hobby to him; he's so rich that he wants to play real life football manager.
A very charitable man, perhaps karma was on Kerimov's side when he survived a horrific automobile crash in 2006—though his Ferrari perished.
Manager: Gadzhi Gadzhiev
66 years old now. Retirement does beckon for Gadzhi Gadzhiev.
Gadzhiev has been managing since 1972 but hasn't really done anything noteworthy.
As José Mourinho once said, "This could be the story of a donkey who worked for 30 years but never became a horse."
Though having worked with the likes of Rinat Dasayev, Andrei Kanchelskis, Oleh Protasov, Vladimir Beschastnykh and many of Russia's current stars through the youth system—it's beneficial for now.
As soon as Anzhi Makhachkala make it, I believe Gadzhiev will be shown the door for a better manager. Rumours are it will be Fabio Capello.
World Class Player: Samuel Eto'o
From Inter Milan to Anzhi Makhachkala for €21 million
So Inter Milan traded Zlatan Ibrahimović to Barcelona for Samuel Eto'o and €46 million.
A UEFA Champions League title, a Serie A title, a FIFA World Club cup, two Coppa Italias and a Supercoppa Italiana later, Inter Milan sell a 30-year-old Eto'o for €21 million to an obscure but ambitious Russian club that won't be contending in the UEFA Champions League for a few more seasons.
Genius management from Inter Milan owner Massimo Moratti. Then again, he is a billionaire.
Eto'o will earn €400,000 per week and is set to earn €20.5 million a year.
The Cameroonian has won everything and accomplished everything worth winning and accomplishing. Who would turn down that kind of crazy money?
Living Legend: Roberto Carlos
Signed as a free agent by Anzhi Makhachkala
The last couple of years have been bittersweet for Roberto Carlos.
At Corinthians, having played a good first season, his second season was poor and he became a target for the vocal Corinthian supporters.
So demonstrative was the rhetoric against Carlos that he was released from the club.
Having signed a two-and-a-half year contract worth €10 million—not too bad for someone nearing retirement—the 38-year-old is set to live up to his words.
At Anzhi Makhachkala, he has reinvented himself as a defensive midfielder because aside from a few games at left back, Kamil Agalarov has been the main left back.
With three Man of the Match awards as a defensive midfielder, it seems Carlos is as evergreen as Ryan Giggs.
Unfortunately for Carlos' rejuvenated success, there has also been bitterness towards the climate in Russia, specifically the racist nature of Russian supporters.
World Class Potential: Balázs Dzsudzsák
From PSV Eindhoven to Anzhi Makhachkala for €14 million
Exceptionally gifted Hungarian winger. I was surprised he chose money over trophies considering how young he is.
Perhaps he was enticed by the ambitious package of Anzhi Makhachkala becoming a major player in Europe with seasons to come.
No doubt, he would be a valuable player for any big European club.
Last season, Balázs Dzsudzsák went on a purple patch where he scored or provided an assist in 11 straight games.
He is currently sidelined by a collarbone fracture until late November.
Star Russian: Yuri Zhirkov
From Chelsea to Anzhi Makhachkala for €15 million
Chelsea bought Yuri Zhirkov for €20 million, and in two seasons the Russian spent 55 games either in the hotel or being a professional bench warmer.
Somehow, just somehow, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich managed to convince Anzhi Makhachkala owner Suleyman Kerimov to spend €15 million on Zhirkov.
Zhirkov will look to discover the form he had with CSKA Moscow.
First Class: Mbark Boussoufa
From Anderlecht to Anzhi Makhachkala for €8 million
In hindsight, maybe a then ambitious 17-year-old Mbark Boussoufa should have stayed with the Ajax academy as opposed to jumping over to the Chelsea academy.
He spent three aimless years at Chelsea where he could have been playing first team football in the Eredivisie.
I watched a lot of Mbark Boussoufa when I was following Romelu Lukaku at Anderlecht and the Moroccan magician is a sight for sore eyes.
At 27 years of age, his career achievements haven't matched his glitzy skills.
He really reminds me of Mohamed Aboutrika, who looks like a world beater in a lesser environment, but can he replicate what he's doing in a better league?
Maybe not because both players have lived in the comfort zone.
First Class Potential: Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez
From Standard Liège to Anzhi Makhachkala for €5.5 millon
Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez didn't do himself justice on the big stage against Arsenal two years ago.
As Arsenal were winning 2-0, Carcela-Gonzalez launched into a wild tackle at then Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas.
Both came together and Carcela-Gonzalez foolishly directed his head towards Fàbregas, who unlike Sergio Busquets, did not make the most of the incident.
Carcela-Gonzalez was sent off.
He's a mercurial talent and with very quick feet, he's a good dribbler whose career right now is in limbo.
He was assaulted by Chris Mavinga on the football pitch and has been out with a basal skull fracture since May.
Still didn't stop Anzhi Makhachkala from buying him.
Cristiano Ronaldo will not rule out a move to Anzhi Makhachkala. Considering he's already won everything worth winning, maybe wages of say €1 million a week and his supermodel girlfriend being Russian can entice him to make such a big move.
Nemanja Vidić was subject to a €28 million bid from Anzhi Makhachkala. Considering Manchester United have Phil Jones and Chris Smallings, this could be a Jaap Stam-like situation for Sir Alex Ferguson where the money is too good to refuse.
Hulk was subject to a ludicrous €87 million bid from Anzhi Makhachkala. There is no way Porto would have had the balls to ask for €90 million, which made the transfer fall through, because Hulk isn't even worth half of that. A fair transfer fee of Hulk would be €20 million.
Andrei Arshavin played down a transfer to Anzhi Makhachkala, but if the Russian club offer €20 million, I'm sure Arsène Wenger will have a hard time turning down that much money for a player who has gone missing from time to time.
Fernando Torres could be offered a Russian exit route to Anzhi Makhachkala if he doesn't succeed this season. Aside from commercial reasons, and his image being tainted because of his inability to score, why on earth would an up-and-coming club buy Torres? Then again maybe if he scores 20 goals this season, perhaps Chelsea can inflate a transfer fee of €40 million.
Please also read Premier League: Worst 11 of the Week.