Anzhi tasks Carlos with a huge summer transfer expenditure
Anzhi is prepared to spend €300 million to gain Champions League qualification
Former Brazil international Roberto Carlos will identify the targets
Anzhi decided not to make a bid for Chelsea striker Fernando Torres
Anzhi Makhachkala are preparing an extraordinary transfer spend of €300 million ($399M) with the aim of establishing itself as a Champions League club within the next three seasons. The huge investment in new players will be front-loaded on the upcoming summer window ahead of the Russian Premier League's conversion to an autumn-spring schedule.
The spending is to be overseen by Roberto Carlos, appointed Team Director by Anzhi owner Suleyman Kerimov after stepping down as the Dagestan-based club's captain earlier this year. The former Brazil international's remit is to employ his extensive knowledge and contacts to ensure the billionaire's resources deliver elite-level European soccer.
Last summer, while still playing for Anzhi, Roberto Carlos advised Kerimov to make Samuel Eto'o the club's headline signing. Eto'o was then quickly recruited from Internazionale for €21.5M ($28M) -- the entire payment made in cash -- and handed an after-tax salary of €20M ($26M), half of which was paid up front.
A similarly extravagant transaction brought Roberto Carlos to Anzhi in February 2011. After watching a Corinthians match on television in which the defender scored direct from a corner kick, Kerimov sent a representative to Sao Paulo under instructions to secure his signature. Though the then 36-year-old was reluctant to move his family from Brazil, his resistance was broken by Anzhi's offer of €12M ($15.9M) over two seasons, half of which was immediately paid into his bank account as concrete proof of Anzhi's intentions.
The markedly tightened transfer market in western Europe resulted in representatives of a number of high-profile players offering their services to Anzhi during the last window. Carlos Tevez (in the midst of his ugly dispute with Manchester City), Frank Lampard (deemed surplus to long-term requirements at Chelsea), and Didier Drogba (offered only a single-season extension by the London club) were all proposed as potential new recruits.
Ahead of the summer window, Anzhi have already been had Fernando Torres proposed to them by the same Italian intermediary who brokered Eto'o's transfer from Inter. Contrary to reports of an informal £45M ($71M) offer to Chelsea for the center forward, Anzhi passed on the Spaniard, calculating that he would not combine well with Eto'o.
"Everybody wants to come here now," said Roberto Carlos. "They understand that there is money to be made."
While the €300M transfer budget gives Anzhi huge financial muscle to attract individuals who would otherwise not even consider a move to Russian soccer, regulations limiting foreign footballers means the spending must be targeted. At present, no more than six overseas players can be fielded at any time, though proposals -- strongly supported by Kerimov -- are in place to increase that quota to seven next season.
Anzhi currently stand sixth in the Russian Premier League, 12 points adrift of leaders Zenit St Petersburg and five points off the second Champions League qualifying place with eight post-split 'Championship Group' games remaining.
Guus Hiddink, the team's recently appointed coach, requested the recruitment of Anzhi's last significant signing, Christopher Samba. Before deciding to take the Congo center back from Blackburn Rovers, Anzhi were also negotiating the transfer of FC Porto defender Rolando on a €15M-plus ($19.9M) deal.
Duncan Castles is a Scottish football journalist who also writes for The Sunday Times, The National and Champions magazine. You can also follow him on Twitter: @duncancastles
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