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Guus Hiddink resigns from Anzhi sparking speculation he will join Barcelona

Guus Hiddink

Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen succeeds Hiddink.

Six-time Eredivisie winner Guus Hiddink has stepped down from his management role at Anzhi Makhachkala just two games into the Russian Premier League season and less than six weeks into negotiating a new deal with the cash-laden club.

Hiddink, 66, cited an opportune moment in the club's own ability to develop without him as the primary reason for his departure, expressed his delight at being a part of the project and now faces a library of headlines associating him with the vacant position at Barcelona. 

"This decision was not easy for me," he told Anzhi's website. "But I've always said that my mission at Anzhi could end when the club is able to develop and continue to grow by itself, without my participation. Now that time has come. I am convinced that a great future awaits the club and I am happy that I was a part of this vast football project."

Under Hiddink's tutelage, the club reached a record high third placed finish in the domestic division and a cup final while embarking on an impressive run in the Europa League. Hiddink also added the names of Willian and Christopher Samba to a roster that already included Samuel Eto'o. 

The club responded by accepting Hiddink's resignation: "Anzhi has taken the decision to accept the request of the head coach and end their employment relations. [We] sincerely thank Guus Hiddink for his significant contribution to the club's development and wish him success in his future career."

That career may now include a punctuation mark if bookmakers are correct as the odds of Hiddink - who has enjoyed spells at PSV Eindhoven, South Korea and Chelsea - now joining Barcelona have been shortened from 20/1 to 1/3. 

Rene Meulensteen, meanwhile, who was Hiddink's assistant and a former coach at Manchester United, has been promoted to full-time manager of Anzhi's first team.

image: © Maarten Dirske

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