After five months at big-spending Russian side Anzhi, Guus Hiddink has his first chance to shape the squad in the summer transfer window. All Anzhi’s signings so far have been lesser-known young players - but is another marquee signing on then horizon for the club that bought Samuel Eto’o? Hiddink answered R-Sport's questions about this and much more at Anzhi’s training camp in Austria.
What can you say about Anzhi’s new signings - forwards Lacina Traore, Fyodor Smolov and Serder Serderov?
“Buying them was part of the club’s concept for its development. They’re young players who will help our club to grow and develop steadily, step by step. At the time of my arrival at the club I had a conversation with the owner [Suleiman Kerimov] and told him that we shouldn’t just make expensive purchases and waste money, it’s important to build the whole development structure of the club, and build it properly. Obviously, to increase our level you can make one or two expensive purchases but it’s also important to give young players the opportunity to prove themselves. They’ll be the future of the club, won’t they?”
Should we expect Anzhi to keep up the signings in this transfer window or are you finished strengthening the squad?
“The current transfer window is very long. I think that we’re right in counting on one more purchase. For what position, I can’t tell you.”
It seems like the club only has a problem in one position, they playmaker. Is a search underway for this position? How about Wesley Sneijder?
“Looking forward, we already have good young players in that position who could build our attacking game. In particular, there’s Oleg Shatov, who’s able to cover this position.
Your new signing Traore is an odd type of player [one of the tallest forwards in the world]. How do you plan to use him together with Samuel Eto’o?
“If you remember last year, then Samuel had a lot of problems converting his chances. I think that playing behind such a powerful forward as Traore will untie his hands a bit. As well as that, we’ve got [Moroccan winger] Mbark Boussoufa, yes, and Eto’o himself will be able to play as a left-sided inside forward if necessary. We’ve talked to him about it and there are no problems whatsoever. Last season [Alexander] Prudnikov and [Jan] Holenda joined him in a strike partnership, now Traore’s turned up, who is a goalscoring forward. We’ve also bought Smolov, who can also play as a forward. We haven’t limited Traore to being on his own.”
What do you think of UEFA’s decision to stop Anzhi playing Europa League games at home for security reasons?
“"I did not understand this decision. We played Russian championship matches in Makhachkala last season and everything was fine. In Dagestan there’s an amazing crowd. We are proud to play for them and with their support. UEFA took a controversial decision by prohibiting us to play at our home arena. We have everything in order to hold the Europa League matches in Makhachkala: a good pitch, great fans and wonderful support, but the commission decided in their own way."
Is it true that you received several offers of work from clubs and federations in May and June?
“Yes, it’s like that. I wouldn’t like to name specifically which clubs and national teams the offers came from, but they existed. I turned them down because I want to stay at Anzhi and help the club in its development.”
What’s your contract situation at Anzhi?
“I have a valid contract with the club to the end of this season. Understand, I’m no longer young and, anyway, the time will come when I should step aside for younger people. Let’s not look that far. At the moment I like to work side by side with young people, I charge up my energy from them.”
As an ex-Russia coach, what do you think of the shortlist of 13 candidates for the vacant job?
“In Russia there are experienced coaches who could come in for this job. In the Russian national team, the time has come for a generational change, and the team should be made up of young players. But, even so, there players in the squad who can still help the national team. You need to think further than the  World Cup in Brazil, you need to think of the long term.”