What awaits Arsenal ace Robin van Persie if he takes Anzhi option

Barely a fortnight away from kickoff, don't discount the shadow of Anzhi Makhachkala hanging over the English transfer market next month.
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Barely a fortnight away from kickoff, don't discount the shadow of Anzhi Makhachkala hanging over the English transfer market next month.

With the backpages are buzzing over Robin van Persie's future and where next for the Arsenal captain, Anzhi remain lurking in the background - the one club in the world capable of going toe-to-toe with Sheikh Mansour's billions at Manchester City.

If Arsene Wenger fails to convince his captain about Arsenal as a title contender, then City is the obvious destination for most pundits, with rivals Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United trailing in the wake of their spending power.

But as Samuel Eto'o has shown, if it is to get down to money, then Anzhi will have something to say should RVP become available.

Russian football expert Kate Partridge, the sports anchor at Russia's RT, says Anzhi owner Suleyman Kerimov is determined to for the club to match uber-rich brothers City and PSG - and this plan includes moving for high-profile players like Van Persie.

"The fact is that the dynamic Kerimov bought his little-known native club Anzhi in January, signed Roberto Carlos, and added his mission statement for the Russian Premier League side was Champions League football," Partridge told tribalfootball.com.

"The acquisition of Samuel Eto’o from Inter Milan was headline news globally, but followed a plethora of signings including Anderlecht winger Mbark Boussoufa, Brazilians Jucilei from Corinthians and Diego Tardelli from Atletico Mineiro, plus Chelsea’s Yuri Zhirkov.

"Continuous rumours have linked the visionary Kerimov with the world’s best players and managers – particularly experienced stars whose contracts are under negotiation, such as van Persie – and have lifted Anzhi onto the same plateau as uber-rich Manchester City and Paris St. Germain as the teams to join in terms of ambition, and phenomenal wealth."

Should Van Persie take the gamble and choose Anzhi as his next port-of-call, he will not want for anything courtesy of Kerimov, whose net worth was set at $7.8 billion by Forbes magazine this year.

"Anzhi’s impressive, five-star training facilities are based in the village of Kratovo, 40 kilometres south-east of Moscow, which formerly belonged to the now bankrupt club of Saturn Ramenskoe," continued Partridge.

"As this was once a top-flight club, there are houses suitable for footballers and their families nearby, while it is easier to live locally due to the heavy traffic in the Russian capital (to beat the jams, Eto'o arrived at his first training session escorted by a police car). In an interview with sports.ru, Eto'o said he has a support staff of 30 people, including lawyers, press officers and in-house staff.

"Meanwhile, Anzhi’s players fly the 1,600 kilometres from Moscow to Makhachkala to play their home games. However, Kerimov has announced that a brand new training facility as well as a stadium for 50,000 spectators will be built in Makhachkala."

The big question mark for a player of Van Persie's status, particularly with Holland's European Championship campaign ahead, is whether the gamble is worth it in January. A new country and a new culture must be handled by Van Persie and his young family, while the league is now in shutdown mode and won't resume until March due to the heavy local winter, with temperatures dropping to -35°C.

Partridge has kept a close eye on how Anzhi's local players have handled the influx of foreign names arriving on bank-busting contracts and says the spirit within the squad remains unaffected.

Eto'o has quickly settled into life in the Russian championship and mixes well with his Anzhi teammates, as does the other foreigners like former PSV Eindhoven winger Balazs Dszudzsak and the ex-Anderlecht star Boussoufa.

"The general consensus seems to have been summed up by Samuel Eto’o on the BBC on November 12th: 'I'm very comfortable and happy in my life. I'm trying to help my team mates improve, I'm scoring goals - I couldn't ask God for more'," said Partridge.

"When asked, Dutch-born Moroccan Boussoufa was also happy with the new project to propel Anzhi into a European powerhouse. (Diego) Tardelli, who only joined Anzhi on March 8th, is back on the transfer market and valued at 11 million Euros, but there does not appear to have been a problem with him fitting in."

 
West Brom mad, Kate Partridge is the sports anchor at Russia's RT and writes a weekly blog on the Premier League for rt.com. Click here for more.

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