Russia club Anzhi sign Zhirkov

Moscow: Russian Premier League outfit Anzhi Makhachkala completed the signing of left winger Yuri Zhirkov from English Premier League giants Chelsea on a four-year deal, the club announced Sunday.

No financial details were disclosed but media reports said Anzhi payed Chelsea 13.2 million pounds for Zhirkov, who, rumours say, will receive a 5.5 million euro annual salary -- making him the Russian league`s top earner.

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 caliber at my disposal.

"Anzhi wasn`t the only club vying for him."

Two years ago, Chelsea paid CSKA Moscow 18 million pounds 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 veteran Brazilian star Roberto Carlos on a two-and-a-half year deal.

The 38-year-old 2002 World Cup winner is now the league`s top earner with a reported annual salary of five million euros payed to him by Kerimov.

Kerimov, who is also a Russian senator, also signed another Brazilian international, midfielder Jucilei da Silva, from Carlos` former club Corinthians for 11 million euros.

Kerimov also has plans to build a new stadium in the Caspian Sea city of Makhachkala, currently renowned more for its militant attacks than the achievements of its football clubs.

Anzhi currently sit fourth in the Russian league table with 33 points from 19 matches.

Bureau Report

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