Remembering Anzhi Makhachkala's crazy spending spree between 2011 and 2013

Anzhi made Samuel Eto'o the highest-paid player in world football

Remember when Anzhi Makhachkala attempted to take over the world of football?

Sure you do. Back in 2011, the club that had only been founded 20 years prior were looking to shake up the establishment backed by the enormous wealth of billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov.

It was one of the craziest projects in football and it's one that has seriously imploded. Anzhi currently play in the Russian Professional Football League, the third-tier of football in the country.

But for a brief period between 2011 and 2013, they succeeded in their task of bolstering the squad with some seriously talented players.

The majority left shortly after when Kerimov announced in August 2013 he was cutting the squad's budget by two-thirds, with Anzhi finishing the 2013/14 season rock-bottom with just 20 points.

It was quite the ride and we're going to look back at the 15 marquee signings made by Dagestan-based club during those bonkers two years.

All transfer fees courtesy of Transfermarkt.

Roberto Carlos with Anzhi

1. Roberto Carlos, 2011 (free)

Carlos arrived in February 2011 and was deployed as a defensive midfielder - which actually kind of worked. In August 2012, the Brazilian announced his retirement from professional footballl.

2. Willian, 2013 (£31.5m)

The most expensive signing of the lot. Signed in January 2013, Willian made just 11 appearances for Anzhi before joining Chelsea that summer for £30m.

3. Samuel Eto'o, 2011 (£24.3m)

Not the most expensive, but certainly the craziest deal of them all. Eto'o was made the highest-paid player in world football at Anzhi with a salary of €20m-per-year after tax. He did at least score 26 goals in his 73 games.

4. Aleksandr Kokorin, 2013 (£17.1m)

Signed in the summer of 2013, the highly-rated Russian striker made a grand total of zero appearances for Anzhi before being sold to Dynamo Moscow around a month later due to budget cuts. He currently plays for Sochi on loan from Zenit.

5. Lacina Traore, 2012 (£16.2m)

The gangly Ivorian striker managed to score 18 goals in his 46 games for Anzhi and he's now in Romania with CFR Cluj.

Traore with Everton

6. Igor Denisov, 2013 (£13.5m)

Denisov played just three games for Anzhi before being shipped off to Dynamo Moscow in August 2013 - along with Kokorin - to save some cash. He retired from football back in May 2019.

7. Yuri Zhirkov, 2011 (£13.5m)

Like Denisov and Kokorin, Zhirkov was sold to FC Dynamo in August 2013 after just two years with Anzhi in which he made 46 appearances, scoring just three goals. The 36-year-old is currently on the books at Zenit.

8. Balazs Dzsudzsak, 2011 (£12.6m)

Arrived in June 2011, injured in August and then sold in January 2012 with just eight appearances for the club, a dismal deal for Anzhi. The Hungarian is currently plying his trade with Al Ain.

9. Chris Samba, 2012, 2013 (£12.6m AND £10.44m)

After an average first year with Anzhi, Samba was sold to QPR in January 2013 and then bizarrely, he was re-signed in July that year for a near identical fee. Thirteen months after that Samba - like many on this list - was off to Dynamo and he announced his retirement back in 2018.

10. Jucilei, 2011 (£9m)

One of the few to play the majority of the 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons with Anzhi. The 32-year-old Brazilian was last seen at Sao Paolo and he's currently without a club.

Jucilei with Anzhi

11. Moubarak Boussoufa, 2011 (£7.2m)

A cracking bit of business. Boussoufa scored 13 goals and assisted another 27 in his 87 appearances for Anzhi, but he was sadly shown the exit door in August 2013 as part of the ill-fated restructuring under Kerimov. The 35-year-old Moroccan is currently with Al-Sailiya in Qatar.

12. Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez, 2011 (£5.13m)

Another okay signing, but the 30-year-old midfielder - who had starred at Standard Liege - was also part of the 2013 fire sale after making 47 appearances for the club. The Moroccan is now back in Belgium with Liege.

13. Ewerton, 2012 (£4.86m)

The only player on this list to stay at Anzhi until 2015, bravo Ewerton! Sadly, his prolonged stay didn't yield many appearances, with the Brazilian defender making just 39 in total. The 31-year-old can currently be found at Hamburg in Germany's second-tier.

14. Lassana Diarra, 2012 (£4.5m)

The former Real Madrid midfielder was a major coup for the club, but less than 12 months after his arrival Kerimov decided the fun and games at Anzhi were over. The Frenchman was sold to Lokomotiv Moscow and eventually called time on his career while at PSG in 2019.

15. Diego Tardelli, 2011 (£4.5m)

A disastrous signing. After arriving in March 2011, the Brazilian played just 13 times during his 10 months in Russia, failing to score a single goal. Tardelli, 34, is now back in his homeland with Atletico Mineiro.

Tardelli with Brazil

Some seriously big names and Anzhi did at least qualify for the Europa League in both 2012/13 and 2013/14.

During the 2012/13 edition of the competition, Anzhi faced off against Liverpool and even beat the Reds on home soil.

They also made it to the Russian Cup final in 2013, before losing on penalties to CSKA Moscow.

But their demise is proof that you need far more than a chequebook to succeed in the brutal world of professional football.

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