Chelsea FC defender Yuri Zhirkov has returned to his homeland after putting pen to paper on a four-year deal with ambitious Russian Premier-Liga outfit FC Anzhi Makhachkala.
Zhirkov, who can play as a full-back or left midfielder, agreed to end his time at Stamford Bridge with two years remaining on the contract he signed in 2009 when leaving PFC CSKA Moskva. Anzhi are believed to have offered around €15m for the Russian international, who has been capped 43 times.
The 27-year-old, who is Anzhi's second acquisition of the summer, said: "I'm really happy to move to Makhachkala. I didn't expect such a warm welcome. It's fantastic.
Zhirkov won two Russian titles, the 2005 UEFA Cup and four Russian Cups in his five-and-a-half years with CSKA. Upon joining the Blues, however, he struggled to hold down a regular place, making 29 league appearances as the Londoners claimed the Premier League and FA Cup double in 2009/10 and qualified for this season's UEFA Champions League group stage by finishing runners-up last term.
Anzhi are not involved in UEFA competition this season, but have every intention of being so in 2012/13 following the arrival of new owners, who have brought in the likes of Roberto Carlos, Mbark Boussoufa and Balázs Dzsudzsák since taking control. Zhirkov's new employers are in fourth place in the Russian standings with 33 points from 19 matches.
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