All change at Anzhi after budget slashed
Rene Meulensteen has been sacked by Anzhi Makhachkala just 16 days after being appointed and will be replaced by the club's former coach Gadzhi Gadzhiyev, with the club also set to sell a string of star players as part of a cost-cutting procedure.
Anzhi chairman Konstantin Remchukov revealed late on Tuesday that the club are planning to overhaul their big-spending approach, with a number of players - including the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Willian and Chris Samba - expected to be sold as they cut their budget in half.
Former United coach Meulensteen, who was brought to the club as Guus Hiddink's assistant before taking the manager's job last month, appears to be the first victim of the shake-up after Remchukov tweeted: "Gadzhi Gadzhiev will lead the club."
Dmitriy Shlyakhtin, the minister for sport in the city of Gadzhiev's current club Krylia Sovetov, confirmed the 67-year-old's departure, saying: "It's not a rumour, it's official. Gadzhi has left his post".
Billionaire Suleyman Kerimov bought Anzhi in 2011 and has since spent heavily on improving the squad with high-profile additions.
The likes of Roberto Carlos, Samuel Eto’o and Chris Samba have turned out for the Dagestan outfit, with Eto’o currently believed to be the world’s highest-paid player – reportedly taking home £17 million after tax.
The approach yielded Anzhi’s best ever finish in the Russian Premier League – third place last season – and they continued to spend big during the summer, splashing out around £50 million on Aleksandr Kokorin, Igor Denisov and returning defender Samba.
However, Kerimov and the Anzhi hierarchy have now decided to adopt a more frugal transfer policy and focus more on youth development, with chairman Remchukov taking to Twitter to outline the club’s plans.
"The truth is that we will be reformatting the way Anzhi is run. Many expensive players will leave. The budget will be 50-70 million dollars (£32-46 million) a year,” Remchukov tweeted.
And the club released a statement confirming the Anzhi's new direction.
“Having analysed the club's latest sports achievements following the results of the past period, Anzhi's administration has made a decision to work out the club's new and long-term development strategy," the statement read.
"The new programme aims at gaining success in all the club's subdivisions with no time limitations.
"Changes to the club's budget are caused by the UEFA up-to-date requirements and linked with the club obligation to comply with Financial Fair Play but, at the same time, they won't lead to considerable deformations in the team's life and in the current structure of our club on the whole.
“Modifications in the personnel policy will be oriented towards long-term prospects. However, that doesn't suppose huge sale of the players or other actions, that were so heatedly debated in some mass media sources. The club will respect all contractual obligations towards the players.
“It must be admitted that the steps taken earlier, which aimed at the fastest achievement of the maximal sports results with the recruitment of big signings, were of no success. This was also proven in the opening matches of the RPL"
Meulensteen is unlikely to be the only departure, with a host of Anzhi players already being linked with moves away in the Russian media.
Kokorin and Denisov have yet to play a competitive fixture for Anzhi, but both are reportedly interesting Zenit St Petersburg and Dinamo Moscow.
"Denisov is one of the best players in our championship, even the best in my view. When he's at Dinamo I'll tell you about it," Dinamo vice presiden Gennady Solovyev said.
Goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov is also tipped to be a target for Dinamo, while it's believed striker Lacina Traore will be available for €9 million.