In what manager Harry Redknapp called a surprise, Queens Park Rangers have acquired Christopher Samba on a transfer from Anzhi Makhachkala.
Samba, a 28-year old defender who previously spent 4 1/2 years with Premier League side Blackburn Rovers, returns to England’s top flight on a club-record £12.5 million ($19.9 million) transfer from the Russian club. He signed a 4 1/2-year contract with QPR with a reported weekly salary of £100,000 ($159,000), the same as he received at Anzhi.
The transfer was highly unexpected for Redknapp, who threw Samba’s name within a list of players he wanted but thought unlikely to get.
“I was speaking with him (owner Tony Fernandes) a month ago and he asked me who I would want to sign if Ryan Nelsen left,” said Redknapp. Nelsen left QPR earlier this month to become Toronto FC’s head coach. “One of them was Chris Samba. The next thing I knew he’s telling me he was working on bringing him in.”
Samba went to Anzhi in February 2012 on a £12.3 million ($19.6 million) transfer from Blackburn. Soon after he experienced a racist incident when a fan threw a banana onto the field. Samba tossed the banana back into the stands.
Samba scored 16 goals in 161 EPL matches at Blackburn, but Redknapp said his defensive talents were top-class.
“He’s a monster — great in the air, quick, a leader, strong, fantastic in both boxes, hard as nails,” said Redknapp.
Samba also played 26 matches with the Congolese national squad from 2004 to 2008.