April 17, 2024

Everton’s £25m signing now admits he ‘regretted’ leaving Goodison Park

Former Russia international Diniyar Bilyaletdinov admits he regrets leaving Premier League outfit Everton when joining Spartak Moscow in January 2012.


Looking back on an impressive career which took him from Moscow to Merseyside and back again, if there was one thing he could change, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov would have had second thoughts about bringing an end to his Everton career after just two-and-a-half years at Goodison Park.


Bilyaletdinov joined The Toffees in a £25 million deal back in 2019. Quite the investment at the time.


But, falling out of favour after fewer than 60 Premier League appearances, the winger was quickly on his way back to the Russian capital when Spartak agreed a fee for the one-time Lokomotiv forward.


Everton paid £25m for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov

“Over the years, I realised that I regretted moving from Everton,” the now-38-year-old tells Sport24.


But while Bilyaletdinov has his regrets about the manner and the timing of his Everton exit, he still believes that Spartak Moscow was the ideal destination, working under Unai Emery in the capital.


“I didn’t regret moving to the Moscow club. I don’t consider moving to Spartak a mistake in my career,” Bilyaletdinov adds. “I received a silver medal as part of the red and white team. I don’t think that if I had stayed in England, everything would have turned out much better.”


Bilyaletdinov, ‘Billy’ to his mates, became the third-most expensive signing in Everton’s history when he joined 14 years ago. And while stand-out moments were in short supply during his time in England, the 46-time Russia international did score a brilliant goal in a 3-1 victory over Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, nearly sending Edwin van der Sar’s net into orbit with a thumping drive from long range.


Toffees turned down Russia striker

Bilyaletdinov remains one of only two Russian players ever to represent Everton, alongside Andrei Kanchelskis.

Two could have become three, however, but Everton backed away from discussions over a £12 million deal to bring striker Fyodor Smolov to Goodison.


“The work of a scout depends on communication with the sporting director. At Everton, they trusted me and listened to me. They often asked about football players from the countries of the former Soviet Union,” explains former Toffees talentspotter Pavel Kucherov told FanDay.


“I remember they were interested in Smolov, when he played for Krasnodar. But I said that this profile of this player would not suit us.


“Moreover, it is not easy (for a player) to leave Russian clubs. Because they want to get two or even three times more for the players than they actually cost.”

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