x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Yuri Zhirkov departs Chelsea to join Anzhi Makhachkala

Anzhi Makhachkala, the big-spending Russian Premier League outfit, have completed the signing of Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea on a four-year deal, the club confirm.

MOSCOW // Anzhi Makhachkala, the big-spending Russian Premier League outfit, have completed the signing of Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea on a four-year deal, the club have confirmed.

No financial details were disclosed but media reports said Anzhi have payed the English Premier League club £13.2 million (Dh79.4m) for Zhirkov, with added speculation that the left-winger will be the league's top earning player.

He is expected to make his debut in the club's next game, against Spartak Moscow.

"I'm happy to be here in Makhachkala," the 27-year-old Russian international said. "It's fantastic. I didn't expect such a cordial reception."

Anzhi manager Gadzhi Gadzhiev said: "Yuri is a very skilled and experienced footballer and I'm really happy to have a player of such a calibre at my disposal.

"Anzhi wasn't the only club vying for him."

Two years ago, Chelsea paid CSKA Moscow £18m for Zhirkov.

He went on to help the Stamford Bridge side to win the English title and the FA Cup but failed to nail down a regular spot in the side. In all, he played 49 matches for Chelsea and scored only one goal.

Anzhi is based in Makhachkala — the capital of Caucasus republic of Dagestan which is one of Russia's most dangerous and unstable regions. For security reasons, the players live and train in the Moscow region and fly to Makhachlaka for home matches.

But in recent months the club has shown its ambition, under new powerful owner — oil and metals magnate Suleiman Kerimov — by signing the veteran Brazilian star Roberto Carlos on a two-and-a-half year deal.

Kerimov, who is also a Russian senator, also signed another Brazilian international, the midfielder Jucilei da Silva, from Carlos' former club Corinthians for €11m.

Kerimov also has plans to build a new stadium in the Caspian Sea city of Makhachkala. Anzhi currently sit fourth in the Russian league with 33 points from 19 matches.