Liverpool set to come face-to-face with forgotten Everton flop Bilyaletdinov

Everton Goodison 2

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov remains the sixth most expensive signing in the history of the Toffees, but is enjoying a new lease of life at Rubin Kazan.

When Everton shelled out a reported £9 million - according to the Guardian - for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in August 2009, hopes were high at Goodison Park.

Recommended to David Moyes by former Russia national team manager Guus Hiddink, the midfielder arrived on Merseyside having emerged as the star of a Lokomotiv Moscow team that upset the odds to win the Russian league in 2004.

That debut campaign was made all the more special by the fact the winger also collected the Young Player of the Year Award after dazzling for Lokomotiv.

A product of the club’s youth academy, Bilyaletdinov played a total of 185 games for the first-team, scoring 38 goals and celebrating some major successes along the way.

This included a CIS Cup win in 2005 and the Russian Cup in 2007, the season that saw the attacker pick up the Player of the Year Award.

Big things were expected of Bilyaletdinov at Everton but, for the most part, he underwhelmed.

Of course there were highlights – the Russian took home the Toffees’ Goal of the Season award for the 2009-10 campaign with a fine strike against Manchester United – but despite a solid return of seven goals in his debut campaign, the midfielder struggled for the most part.

Moyes was clearly unconvinced too, with the Russian rarely afforded an extended run in the team, as the Scot opted to rotate his squad.

Unhappy at the club and with Spartak Moscow keen to bring Bilyaletdinov back to Russia, Everton accepted an offer for the attacker in January 2012, with Moyes viewing it as an opportunity to free up funds for other moves.

Speaking to Sky Sports after arriving at Spartak, meanwhile, the player once affectionately known as “Bily” by Toffees supporters couldn’t resist a dig at his previous manager’s methods.

"Naturally, it (the open football played by Spartak) attracts me. This is exactly what Everton have been missing lately," he said.

"The team has problems with creating scoring chances, and converting them.

"There was a whole set of circumstances against me. It is not so easy to be a foreign player in England."

But things didn’t get any easier for Bilyaletdinov, with the Russian enduring a similarly frustrating spell back in Moscow.

In just over a season-and-a-half, the attacker managed just three goals and was once again in and out of the team as injuries and loss of form took their toll at a time in his career when he should have been playing regular first-team football.

A loan spell at Anzhi Makhachkala followed before Bilyaletdinov moved on again to Torpedo Moscow where he managed 17 league appearances – his best return since playing 26 times for Everton in 2011.

Finally, at the end of his contract with Spartak, the former Blues man moved on to Rubin Kazan this summer on a permanent deal.

It seemed like the perfect club to rehabilitate the 30-year-old, with Rubin a team known for getting the best out of veteran stars with patchy Premier League records, as the examples of Savo Milosevic and Sergei Rebrov attest.

But few could have expected Bilyaletdinov to enjoy the superb start he has enjoyed this term.

In eight appearances so far (six from the start, two as a substitute), the former Everton man has scored twice.

These goals have come in big games too, with the Russian netting against Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg already this term.

Likely to feature against Liverpool, given the dismissal of Syarhey Kislyak against Bordeaux, the Russian will be determined to continue his late career renaissance with a fine display against the Reds.

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