Football Club Anzhi Makhachkala (Russian: Футбольный клуб «Анжи» Махачкала, pronounced [fʊdˈbolʲnɨj kɫup ɐnˈʐɨ məxətɕkɐˈɫa]), or simply known as FC Anji, is a Russian professional football club based in Makhachkala, capital of the Republic of Dagestan. Founded in 1991, the club competes in the Russian Professional Football League.
On 18 January 2011, Anzhi Makhachkala was purchased by billionaire Suleyman Kerimov, and subsequently made numerous high-profile signings, including those of striker Samuel Eto'o and manager Guus Hiddink. Following severe budget cuts ahead of the 2013–14 Russian Premier League season, the club lost most of its key players and went on to finish bottom of the table, which resulted in relegation to the Russian National Football League at the end of the season, returning at the first attempt.
The club was founded in 1991 by former Dinamo Makhachkala player Aleksandr Markarov with the head of Dagnefteprodukt – Magomed-Sultan Magomedov and took part in its first season in the Dagestan League the same year. The club's name Anzhi means pearl in local Kumyk language and is a former name of Makhachkala. FC Anzhi ended up as league champions with an unbeaten record and 16 wins out of 20 matches.
Due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the club entered Zone 1 of the Russian Second Division (the third-highest tier) in 1992 and finished in fifth place. The club won their Group in 1993, but due to league reorganisation were not promoted, and remained in the new Western Zone of the third tier until a second-place finish in 1996 guaranteed promotion to the First Division, under the coaching of Eduard Malofeev. A key player in Anzhi's early history was Azerbaijani international forward Ibragim Gasanbekov, who was the team's top scorer in all of their first seven seasons. He was league top scorer in 1993 (30 goals) and 1996 (33 goals).
In 1999, Anzhi won the First Division, and were thus promoted to the top-flight Premier League for the first time. The side missed out on a bronze-medal finish on the last day of the season, as they conceded a last-minute Torpedo Moscow penalty which took their opponents into third place. On 20 June 2001, the club played in the final of the Russian Cup for the first time, losing to Lokomotiv Moscow on penalties after a 1–1 draw.
Anzhi finished 15th and were relegated from the Premier League in 2002, but during their first season back in the First Division, they reached the semi-finals of the Russian Cup, where they lost 1–0 to Rostov. In their seventh season in the First Division, Anzhi won the league and returned to the Premier League. On 5 December 2010, defender Shamil Burziyev died in a car accident at the age of 25.
On 18 January 2011, the club was purchased by Dagestani billionaire Suleyman Kerimov, but later it was revealed that the President of Dagestan, Magomedsalam Magomedov, met Kerimov and gave him a 100% stake in the club, including 50% of the shares of the former owner of the club Igor Yakovlev, in exchange for financial support. Kerimov was planning to invest over $200 million in infrastructure, of which a substantial amount will go in building a new stadium with a capacity of more than 40,000 spectators, which would meet all UEFA requirements.
Kerimov's investment was immediate as the club made signings in the 2011 winter transfer window. The first significant signing came on 16 February, when the club announced the free transfer of Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos, a FIFA World Cup winner in 2002. Further signings included €10 million on another Brazilian, the former Corinthians midfielder Jucilei and €8 million on Moroccan winger Mbark Boussoufa from Anderlecht. Boussoufa's transfer was finalised in the last minute of the window, on 10 March.
In summer 2011, the club signed the Hungarian Balazs Dzsudzsak, who signed a four-year deal to transfer for a reported €14 million. Anzhi also bought Russian midfielder Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea for a similar fee. On 23 August 2011, Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto'o signed from Inter Milan for approximately €28 million on a world-record €20.5 million annual salary.
In February 2012, the club appointed the experienced Dutchman Guus Hiddink as its new manager following Yuri Krasnozhan's two-month-long spell in charge. Hiddink's first signing was Congolese defender Christopher Samba, joining for £12 million from Blackburn Rovers.
On 30 January 2012, Roberto Carlos announced his plans to retire at the end of the season. He ended his football career on 9 March and took up a role as the club's director.
On 10 October 2012, Anzhi opened a youth academy, the first in Dagestan in order to develop youth talents for the first team. The academy is being run by Anzhi Sporting Director Jelle Goes.
On 22 July 2013, Hiddink resigned from his post as manager, ending an 18-month stint. His newly appointed assistant, countryman Rene Meulensteen, was promoted to the manager position. However, after 16 days as the team manager, Meulensteen was sacked.
On 7 August 2013, Kerimov decided to reduce the team's annual budget by two-thirds. As a result, on 15 August 2013, Yuri Zhirkov, Igor Denisov, and Aleksandr Kokorin were packaged to Dynamo Moscow for an undisclosed fee. The three players had been purchased within the preceding two seasons, at a total cost exceeding €50 million. Remchukov said that the reason for the move was the "sharp deterioration in the health of Suleyman Kerimov, because of worries about the club's lack of success". In addition, Dynamo also signed Christopher Samba, Vladimir Gabulov and Aleksei Ionov from Anzhi. Other cost-cutting transfers included Samuel Eto'o and Willian to English side Chelsea; Lassana Diarra, Mbark Boussoufa and Arseniy Logashov to Lokomotiv Moscow; Joao Carlos to Spartak Moscow; and Oleg Shatov to Zenit Saint Petersburg. The firesale continued into January 2014 with the sale of striker Lacina Traore to Monaco for €18 million and the sale of midfielder Jucilei to Emirati side Al-Jazira.
Several of the players sold had been recent signings for Anzhi; Aleksandr Kokorin had signed from Dynamo only a month before being sold back to the Dinamiki and had yet to make an appearance for Anzhi. Igor Denisov and Aleksei Ionov had both only signed in June and had played only a handful of matches before being sold. Christopher Samba had rejoined Anzhi in July after a spell with Queens Park Rangers. Willian had joined in January and played only 11 league matches before being sold.
The budget cuts and subsequent sales resulted in Anzhi performing very poorly in the 2013–14 Russian Premier League: they finished last and were relegated, having amassed a record low of three wins and 20 points, making them the worst last-placed team in Europe. However, they returned to the top division at the first attempt.
Yuri Semin was announced as Anzhi's manager on 18 June 2015, signing a one-year contract with the option of an additional year. After gaining only 6 points in first 10 games of the 2015–16 season and with Anzhi in last place, Semin left Anzhi on 29 September 2015. After Semin's departure, Ruslan Agalarov was placed in charge of the club, until the end of the season, saving them from relegation with a play-off victory over Volgar Astrakhan.
Pavel Vrba was appointed as the club's new manager on 30 June 2016, following the expiration of Ruslan Agalarov's contract on 31 May 2016. On 28 December 2016, Suleyman Kerimov sold the club to Osman Kadiyev, with Pavel Vrba leaving by mutual consent two days later, with Aleksandr Grigoryan being appointed as the club's new manager on 5 January 2017.
Anzhi was relegated from the Russian Premier League once again at the end of the 2017–18 season, losing the relegation playoffs to FC Yenisey Krasnoyarsk with an aggregate score of 4–6. On 13 June 2018, FC Amkar Perm announced that the Russian Football Union recalled their 2018–19 season license, making them ineligible for the Russian Premier League or Russian Football National League. As a consequence, Anzhi took Amkar's spot and was not relegated.
Anzhi struggled again during the 2018–19 season, and following a 0–1 defeat to Arsenal Tula, their relegation back to the Russian Football National League was confirmed.
On 15 May 2019, club's general director Absalutdin Agaragimov announced that the club failed Russian Football Union licensing for the 2019–20 season. The club had until the end of May to lodge an appeal. On 29 May 2019, Russian Football Union licensing department chief Yevgeni Letin announced that Anzhi has recalled their appeal and, as a result, will not compete in the second-tier Russian Football National League in the 2019–20 season. They had an option of applying for the third-tier Russian Professional Football League license or potentially declaring bankruptcy. On 26 June 2019, Anzhi confirmed that they had received a license to play in the Russian Professional Football League for the 2019–20 season, and that they were still unable to register new players due to outstanding debts. Their 2019–20 squad mostly included the under-20 players who played for their youth team in the previous season, with most first-team players moving to other professional teams, including several notable ones (Yury Dyupin, Vladislav Kulik, Andres Ponce) who remained in the Russian Premier League.
This page also has a version in other languages: Анжи (русский)