Queens Park Rangers have signed defender Chris Samba from Anzhi Makhachkala for an undisclosed club-record fee.
Samba, 28, has signed a four-and-a-half year contract worth £100,000 a week, with the deal subject to the player receiving international clearance.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp, who has moved quickly to replace the departing Ryan Nelsen, is delighted with his latest addition, and has praised chairman Tony Fernandes for his part in the transfer.
“This is an unbelievable signing,” he told the club’s official website. “Tony Fernandes deserves a lot of credit for this one - he has worked so hard on bringing him in.
“I was speaking with him a month ago and he asked me who I would want to sign if Ryan Nelsen left, he asked me to give him a couple of names. I said to him, ‘Well, these aren’t possible to get but if you’re asking me who I’d have, I’ll give you a couple of players.’ One of them was Chris Samba.
“The next thing I know he’s telling me that he’s working on bringing him in! It’s amazing. Chris is just what we need. He’s a monster. Great in the air, quick, a leader, strong, fantastic in both boxes, hard as nails. He’s a proper centre-half.”
Samba, who signed for Anzhi from Blackburn Rovers for £12.5 million in 2012, is ecstatic to be playing his football back in England.
“I’m delighted to be back in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world to play football,” he said. “I’ve been linked with the club for a long time. With Harry here though, he is really passionate and he wants to do something with the club.
“Unfortunately things haven’t gone the way the club would have wanted so far this season but there’s still a lot of time and I’m sure we can get out of it.”
He added: “I know what is going on with the project here. There is a very important fan base here - I’ve played at Loftus Road before and it’s fantastic. The club is ambitious and I’m sure it’s a good challenge for me. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe we could get out of trouble.”
Anzhi coach Guus Hiddink expressed his disappointment at losing Samba, telling Russian newspaper Sport Express on Wednesday: "It's not a very good situation. Samba was with us during this season, began preparations for the winter training camps and suddenly this opportunity arose with an English club. Yesterday [Tuesday] he left for England. Unfortunately, we didn't even have a chance to say goodbye to him. Everything has developed very quickly.
Redknapp is also eager to bolster QPR’s squad with the additions of David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas - both from his previous club Tottenham.
The duo have been out-of-favour at White Hart Lane under Andre Villas-Boas, both spending time out on loan this season, but their experience is seen as invaluable by Redknapp.
Stoke striker Peter Crouch has also been linked with a move to be reunited with his former Tottenham boss, but Redknapp said he was doubtful that a deal could be done in time.
"No, I don't think anything there [is happening with him]," he told Sky Sports as he left the club's training ground. "It is very quiet."
West Brom's Peter Odemwingie had been mentioned as another possible late arrival, while Alejandro Faurlin has left the club on loan - with Palermo confirming his capture for the remainder of the season in a deal that could see the playmaker move permanently in the future for a fee of £4.2 million.