MOSCOW, September 6 (R-Sport) – New Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o admitted Friday that he was stunned when he first heard about Anzhi Makhachkala’s clearout of star players but now believes that billionaire owner Suleiman Kerimov had “important reasons” for the move.
Eto’o’s arrival at Anzhi in 2011 was the symbol of the club’s big-spending ambitions for European silverware, as the Cameroonian reportedly became the world’s best-paid player, and his departure for Chelsea last month was part of an exodus of stars after Kerimov slashed the club’s budget.
“I was surprised. Really surprised,” Eto’o told Russian newspaper Sport Express. “But after speaking with the club’s owner, I understood that he had important reasons to start the reorientation of the project.”
“In that situation, we had to find mutually acceptable solutions for everyone, which we did manage to do.”
At the time, Anzhi said that the cuts came about because the big-spending approach had failed to yield sufficient results and that the club now wanted to develop local talent in its home region, Dagestan.
Speculation has swirled in the Russian media that the change was linked to Kerimov reportedly losing hundreds of millions of dollars when his company's joint venture in the fertilizer industry fell apart. That dispute has since led to Kerimov being named a wanted man by Belarusian authorities.
Since the Anzhi cuts were announced, the club has sold 14 players and brought in 12 lesser-known names including four loanees.
Anzhi sits in 14th place in the Russian Premier League table after seven of 30 games.