x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Mourinho says no to €50 million deal from Russia

The Real Madrid coach turns down big-money offer from Anzhi Makhachkala for the challenge of toppling Barcelona.

Jose Mourinho has turned down an extraordinary €50 million (Dh265m) offer to coach Anzhi Makhachkala, the lavishly funded Russian Premier League club that last month handed Samuel Eto'o the richest playing contract in football's history.

Mourinho's offer exceeded the €20m accepted by the African striker, promising to pay the coach €25m per season after tax.

Already the game's best-paid manager with a net salary of more than €10m at Real Madrid, Mourinho rejected Anzhi's offer without further discussion.

Though the Portuguese coach has attracted the attentions of the affluent owners of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in recent seasons, he has been consistent in placing the pursuit of trophies over the opportunity to further swell his wealth.

Mourinho's intention is to wrest the Spanish league title from Barcelona and win the Champions League with Real before moving to his next club appointment, most likely in the Premier League.

He has identified Manchester United as the club with whom he would prefer to return to English football, when his close friend Sir Alex Ferguson eventually retires.

Anzhi's new status as the authors of football's fattest pay cheques is a result of their takeover by Suleyman Kerimov in January. Kerimov's diverse business holdings were valued at US$7.8 billion (Dh28.6bn) by Forbes earlier this year, placing him 118th on their list of the world's wealthiest individuals.

Kerimov, 45, has promised to invest over $200m in infrastructure for the Dagestan-based club, including the construction of a 40,000-capacity stadium. His investment in playing resources has, if anything, been more dramatic.

Eto'o, a Champions League and Italian treble winner under Mourinho just one year ago, was persuaded to leave Inter Milan by a contract that more than doubled his already substantial earnings.

Eto'o joined a squad that also contains the Brazil World Cup winner Roberto Carlos, the Brazil striker Diego Tardelli and Yuri Zhirkov, the Russian midfielder recruited from Chelsea.

Part of Kerimov's strategy to develop Anzhi's squad has been to allow his players to live and train in the comfort of Moscow. Players and coaching staff make a 1,600km round-trip flight for each home fixture. Founded in 1991 and promoted back to Russia's Premier League in 2009, Anzhi currently lie fifth in the division.