Eto'o, Willian, Carlos: Remembering Anzhi Makhachkala's spending spree

Samuel Eto'o left Anzhi for Chelsea in 2013

In January 2011, Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov purchased Anzhi Makhachkala, his hometown club.

As soon as he was able to, the ambitious new owner splashed the cash in the transfer market, bolstering his squad with a plethora of high-profile signings.

Anzhi did enjoy some short-term success under Kerimov as a result, but after finishing third in the Russian Premier League table in 2012/13, everything went pear-shaped.

The billionaire announced he was cutting the squad's budget by two-thirds in August 2013 and pretty much every big-name player that had arrived jumped ship.

Anzhi ended up finishing rock-bottom of the table in 2013/14 with just 20 points to their name and they can now be found in the second-tier of Russian football.

It really was a crazy few years and we're going to take a closer look at the 16 major signings made by Kerimov and Anzhi between 2011 and 2013.

Carlos with Anzhi

All fees sourced from Transfermarkt.

1. Roberto Carlos (Free)

The Brazilian legend arrived in February 2012 and was used as a defensive midfielder. He retired in August 2012 and had a brief spell as interim manager of Anzhi shortly after.

2. Willian (£31.5m)

Despite being the club's most expensive ever signing, Willian played just 11 games for Anzhi. He joined Chelsea shortly after arriving in Dagestan and the 32-year-old is now with Arsenal.

3. Samuel Eto'o (£24.3m)

Anzhi handed Eto'o a salary of €20m-per-year after tax, making him the highest-paid footballer in the world for a brief time. The Cameroonian scored 26 goals in 73 games for the club, a fairly average record for someone on such high wages. He announced his retirement back in August 2019.

4. Aleksandr Kokorin (£17.1m)

Kokorin arrived just before Kerimov opted to cut the squad's budget in August 2013. As a result, the talented striker didn't play a single game for Anzhi and was instead sold to Dynamo Moscow. He now plays for Fiorentina.

Kokorin with Russia

5. Lacina Traore (£12.6m)

The Ivorian scored 18 goals in 46 games for Anzhi, a fairly decent return. Traore has played for eight different teams since leaving Dagestan in January 2014 and can currently be found at Turkish side Bandirmaspor.

6. Igor Denisov (£13.5m)

Denisov played only three games for Anzhi before he - like Kokorin - was sold to Dynamo Moscow in August 2013. The combative midfielder retired from the sport back in 2019.

7. Yuri Zhirkov (£13.5m)

The former Chelsea man spent two years in Dagestan before he joined Kokorin and Denisov at Dynamo Moscow. Zhirkov is now with Zenit, where he's still an important player at the age of 37.

8. Balazs Dzsudzsak (£12.6m)

Dzsudzsak was signed in June 2011, played only eight games because of injury and was then sold in January 2012, a truly disastrous signing. The Hungarian is now back playing in his homeland with Debrecen.

Dzsudzsak with Hungary

9. Chris Samba (£12.6m)

Samba was signed in January 2012 and was then promptly sold to QPR the same month the following year. That was far from the end of his story with Anzhi, though...

10. Chris Samba (£10.44m)

Yes, you're reading that correctly. Despite an average first spell, Anzhi decided to re-sign the Congolese centre-back for a similar fee in July 2013 and they then opted to sell him to Dynamo in August of that year. Samba retired back in 2018 after a short period with Aston Villa.

11. Jucilei (£9m)

The Brazilian arrived in the summer of 2011 and was one of the few to remain with Anzhi for the entirety of the 2013/14 season. The 32-year-old is currently a free agent, having last played for Sao Paolo.

12. Moubarak Boussoufa (£7.2m)

Arguably the best signing of the lot. The Moroccan scored 13 goals and assisted a further 27 in his 87 appearances for Anzhi, but Kerimov's infamous budget cut meant he was sold to Lokomotiv Moscow. Like Jucilei, Boussoufa is without a club at the time of writing.

Bousouffa with Anzhi

13. Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez (£5.13m)

The talented midfielder signed for Anzhi in September 2011 and was a pretty solid performer. Like many on this list, he was part of the August 2013 fire sale. Carcela-Gonzalez re-joined Standard Liege, the team he currently represents.

14. Ewerton (£4.86m)

The Brazilian centre-back is the only player here who remained on Anzhi's books until 2015, which probably isn't something to brag about. Ewerton is now playing in the German second-tier with Wurzburger Kickers.

15. Lassana Diarra (£4.5m)

After failing to sparkle at Anzhi following his arrival in August 2012, the former Real Madrid midfielder joined Boussoufa at Lokomotiv Moscow. Diarra announced his retirement in February 2019 following a brief spell with PSG.

16. Diego Tardelli (£4.5m)

The Brazilian striker was signed in March 2011 and failed to score a single goal in 13 games. Tardelli spent just 10 months in Dagestan before being offloaded and he is now with Atletico Mineiro.


Some eye-catching names donned the Anzhi shirt and it's perhaps no surprise that the club qualified for the Europa League in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

They beat Liverpool on home soil in November 2012 and also reached the Russian Cup final in 2013, where they lost to CSKA Moscow.

But football lovers will only remember their demise and that should always serve as a reminder that possessing fistfuls of cash doesn't always equal long-term success.

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