Football: France's Lassana Diarra leaves struggling Anzhi for Lokomotiv

MOSCOW (AFP) - French former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra has left struggling Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala to join Moscow premier league rivals Lokomotiv, the football clubs announced.

Diarra is the latest star player to leave Anzhi after their billionaire owner Suleiman Kerimov earlier this month decided to scale down the club's ambitions and drastically shrink their budget.

The contract with Lokomotiv is for four years, the club said in a statement late on Tuesday. The value of the transfer was not disclosed but the Interfax news agency said it was worth 12 million euros (S$20.3 million).

As a result of Kerimov's dramatic change in policy at Anzhi, almost all of the star players signed in a bid to make the Dagestan side world beaters are being put on the market.

Dinamo Moscow have already signed a trio of Russian internationals from Anzhi - captain Igor Denisov, former Chelsea midfielder Yury Zhirkov and striker Alexander Kokorin.

Midfielder Oleg Shatov has also joined Zenit St Petersburg while Morocco international Moubarak Boussoufa made the same move as Diarra by joining Lokomotiv.

After Diarra, the next big name to exit Anzhi appears set to be the classy Brazilian international attacking midfielder Willian, whom Anzhi only signed at the end of last season.

Willian is poised to sign a deal with English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in a transfer worth £30 million (S$59.5 million), according to British media.

If the deal is confirmed, he would be the most expensive player ever sold by a Russian club.

Also expected to leave this season is Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o, who was the highest-paid footballer in the world when he arrived at Anzhi.

The troubles of Anzhi, who came third in the premier league last year, have already hit their performance on the pitch and they are one off the bottom with just two points from five games.