Anzhi Makhachkala fire sale begins; Samuel Eto’o and Willian in talks with Premier League clubs

4 Comments

Chairman Suleyman Kerimov is starting to recoup some of his investment in Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala after selling a handful of big-name stars in the past week. More sales are expected soon, with Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool battling over Willian (pictured, right) and Samuel Eto’o (center) speaking with multiple clubs abroad.

Team captain Eto’o has been asked to stay until the winter transfer window to smooth some of the turnover, and he seems willing to remain in Russia and earn his massive paycheck for the time being.

(MORE: Russian super club Anzhi Makhachkala scrambling in budget crisis)

Others are already gone. Russian star Aleksandr Kokorin rejoined Dinamo Moscow just over a month after going the other direction. National teammates Yuri Zhirkov and Igor Denisov also joined Dinamo, the trio reportedly costing in the neighborhood of €45 million.

Mbark Boussoufa left for Lokomotiv Moscow, and Oleg Shatov signed with Zenit St. Petersburg. Zenit is now a favorite to win the Russian league after also picking up defender Igor Smolnikov from FC Krasnodar. He joins summer signings Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Andrey Arshavin at Zenit.

Defender João Carlos is set to join Spartak Moscow, filling in a gap created when center back Salvatore Bocchetti tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Sunday.

Anzhi’s two highest-profile foreign players, Eto’o and Willian, have been the subjects of much of the transfer drama surrounding the club. Liverpool put in a bid for Willian last week, but Tottenham may swoop in at the last second to finally sign the Brazilian for manager Andre Villas-Boas, who pursued Willian when he coached Chelsea.

Willian can play on the wing, adding fuel to the speculation that Gareth Bale may soon be on his way out at White Hart Lane. Anzhi’s asking price is around €35 million, according to The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, Eto’o’s agent is meeting with Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs in London on Tuesday, according to Sky Italia. He and Willian are the final remaining pieces of what was supposed to be a budding European superpower at Anzhi Makhachkala.

Now, it looks more like a ghost town, suddenly deserted after a period of big promise.

Liverpool fan attacked by Roma support outside pub

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

Ugly scenes surrounded Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League visit from AS Roma, as visiting supporters used the occasion as an excuse for violence.

[ MORE: LFC 2-1 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

Several reports say Roma support — some armed with belts, others with hammers — stormed Liverpool supporters outside a pub near Anfield, with a 53-year-old man requiring treatment after 80 people charged the Albert Pub using a side route.

The Liverpool Echo says Merseyside Police are investigating the incident, and Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft provides some details on the harrowing events.

Comeback kids Roma defiant after loss: “We are not beaten yet”

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

AS Roma turned around a three-goal first leg deficit against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, and i Lupi feel prepared to do it against Liverpool, too.

Roma fell 5-2 to the Reds on Tuesday, but again struck late to bring away goals back to Italy. This time, it was Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti ruining a host’s clean sheet.

[ MORE: Match recap | Klopp reacts ]

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco was not thrilled with his side on the night. From ASRoma.com/En:

“We weren’t on their level tonight – we were lacking a bit of strength and physical presence,” he said. “We let them swamp us too easily on occasion.”

A better second leg is almost assured, but can Roma complete another comeback?

“I have total belief,” Di Francesco said. “You can’t just give in during a game, especially in this type of competition. Sometimes you take a few hits, but the team wasn’t able to stay in the game and at times we lost a bit of unity.”

Sporting director Monchi admits that he thought his side was cooked before Dzeko opened Roma’s account.

“Up until the final 10 minutes we were out of the competition,” he said. “Now we still have some hopes, and we must take this small chance and do the same thing we did against Barcelona.”

Former Spurs defender Federico Fazio, now with Roma, thinks it can be done.

“We always focus on the positives,” said Fazio. “We are fighters and we will give absolutely everything until the last second. We are not beaten yet, once again with the strength of our fans behind us we will fight to the last moment to try and turn this tie around.”

Klopp reacts to Liverpool’s 5-2 win, Ox’s “bad news” injury

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
1 Comment

Liverpool won Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal 5-2 against Roma at Anfield, but it’s show-stopping 80-minute isn’t carrying a ton of momentum in the echoes of the final whistle.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]

That’s because of two factors:

  1. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off the field with an ugly injury
  2. The two in the score line came in the final 10 minutes, as Liverpool almost inexplicably lost focus.

Before we get to Point No. 2, here’s Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on “The Ox”:

“Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably a really bad injury,” Klopp said on BT Sport in England. “That is bad news for us. The squad doesn’t get bigger at the moment so we need to be creative in the next few games.”

As for the Roma goals, Klopp was frustrated but ultimately happy to walk away with a three-goal lead.

Edin Dzeko headed home the Roma opener in the 81st minute before Diego Perotti converted a penalty kick after James Milner handled a ball in the box. Roma collected shot attempts in the final 10 minutes to finish the match 21-14 in Liverpool’s favor.

Klopp did not think it should have been a PK.

“Long term perfect performance for pretty much 80 minutes or so,” he said, via the BBC. “We made defensively one mistake. Penalty is not a penalty but that is the situation and now it is 5-2. Of course we would have been more happy with 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is a fantastic result. We go there and try again.”

Liverpool on late let-off: “You can’t do that in the Champions League”

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

Count Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson among those let down by the final 10 minutes of their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday.

The Reds took a 5-0 lead and conceded goals to Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti to give the visitors hope with two away goals heading back to Italy for the May 2 second leg.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]

“It felt as though we were in full control but we basically gave them two goals, you can’t do that in the Champions League,” Henderson said. “At the same time we played well, we will go there with a three goal advantage.”

Reds center back Virgil Van Dijk was visibly frustrated even when discussing the boss-level effort in building a lead which should be very hard to erase in Rome.

“It was a fantastic evening, lot of good goals,” Van Dijk said. “A lot of passion, frustration, but the last minutes stays in my mind right now. … It can’t happen. Obviously we know Roma have a lot of quality but we need to do better. But we have a 5-2 lead to take with us to Rome. It’s going to be very tough, but we’ll be ready.”

So 3-0 or 4-1 would do it for Roma next week in Italy, but that’s far easier said than done. Liverpool fans won’t be booking too many flights for Ukraine yet, but Jurgen Klopp will be scouting Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on Wednesday with an eye toward Kiev.