The Makhachkala soccer club Anzhi, which two weeks ago announced it would sell most of its key players, took one more cost-cutting step. On Aug. 20, Anzhi’s Brazilian halfback Willian passed a medical check in London; Willian will now join Tottenham, which will pay $46.7 million for the player. Russian clubs have never sold players at such a price.
Willian, the Brazilian halfback with Anzhi, left the Makhachkala squad precipitously, just like other high-paid players Alexander Kokorin, Igor Denisov and Yuri Zhirkov, who last week joined Moscow Dynamo en masse, or Mbarak Boussoufa and Lassana Diarra, who headed for Moscow Lokomotiv.
On Monday, Aug. 19, Willian was seen working out with the Makhachkala players. On the following day, he was on his way to London for a medical check—the last step before signing a contract with Tottenham. Anzhi confirmed these reports carried by The Daily Mail and The Guardian.
The player himself, after Anzhi owner Suleiman Kerimov announced a dramatic, almost threefold cut in the costs of maintaining the team in early August, did not hide his intention to move to the British Premier League. The Brazilian, who joined Anzhi in February 2013 — he was bought from Donetsk Shakhtyor for €35 million ($46.7 million) — was also eyed by Liverpool, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement.
By contrast, the negotiations with Tottenham, which tried to get Willian during the winter transfer window, were successful. The Londoners are ready to pay the same amount (€35 million), plus a certain interest, in the event the player is sold further down the line. In addition, Tottenham has agreed to pay Willian the same wage as Anzhi used to pay him—i.e., £85,000 ($132,500) a week.
Willian’s transfer is a record of sorts for Russian soccer. Russian clubs did occasionally pay a high price for players: Recall the purchase of Hulk by FC Zenith St. Petersburg for €60 million ($80.1 million).
However, Russian clubs have never before sold players for such a price. The biggest transfer since 2008 was the €30 million ($40 million) transfer of the Portuguese defender Danny from Dynamo in Moscow to Zenith in St. Petersburg.
As regards transfers to foreign clubs, the record must go to the Brazilian Jo, who transferred from CSKA Moscow to Manchester City for €24 million in 2008.
First published in Russian in Kommersant.
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