'Zenit ripped off in transfer market'
Moscow, Feb 18 : Russia's St. Petersburg-based football club Zenit is charged inflated prices for players because clubs in other countries cling to stereotypes about rich Russians, Zenit's sports director Dietmar Beiersdorfer has said.
Zenit smashed the Russian transfer record in September with 40 million euros swaps for Hulk and Axel Witsel.
This winter has seen more big Russian transfers, as Anzhi signed Willian from Shakhtar Donetsk for a reported 35 million euros and Rubin Kazan snapped up Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila.
"I am faced with foreign clubs inflating the value of players when they hold talks with Russian clubs," Beiersdorfer said on the Zenit website.
Strict UEFA financial fair play (FFP) rules limiting clubs' losses give Zenit no option but to be frugal, he added.
"Abroad, they usually assume that Russian clubs can afford to pay more for transfers, pay huge wages and commissions. But our club must meet financial fair play rules. We're not living on our own football planet, after all."
So far this winter, Zenit's only signings have been Portugal defender Luis Neto, 24, and Serbian left-back Milan Rodic, 21, and Beiersdorfer said Zenit wanted to balance big-money signings like Hulk with cheaper developing players.
"We're working on a strategic selection plan because the team doesn't just need players in the prime of their career," he said. "We're looking to sign talented lads who could become top-class players later on."
Zenit are third in the Russian league with 11 games remaining, five points off leaders CSKA Moscow.
Former Germany international Beiersdorfer joined Zenit as sports director in August after spells in the same role at Hamburg and Red Bull Salzburg.