Diarra: I came here to win
New Anzhi Makhachkala midfielder Lassana Diarra has challenged those who think he has moved to Russia for the money to watch him play before leaping to any judgement.
Diarra, 27, joined big spending Anzhi from Real Madrid in the summer transfer window for a reported £4.4 million. He said he had not moved for the money, but to help Guus Hiddink's side to win the Russian championship.
"This is a new challenge for me," Diarra said. "I have only been in Russia a few days but I have already had time to train. I have been well received and I appreciate that. I thought I could help push Anzhi to become league champions. Why not?
"During my career I have played for very prestigious teams in Europe and believe me I have earned enough money. I have not come here for money. Anyone who believes that should come to the games, analyse each of them and then say why they think I have come to Anzhi."
The former Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth midfielder becomes the latest big signing for the Dagestan-based club, who are owned by billionaire oligarch Suleyman Kerimov. He said he had turned down offers from other clubs, including Spartak Moscow, and that the opportunity to play alongside his friend Samuel Eto'o had been very attractive.
"Anzhi were more interested than the others, although the most important thing for me was that Samuel Eto'o played here," he said. "He is like a brother to me. Why can we not be successful together?"
The former France international, who will wear squad number 85 at his new club, said he did not believe he would suffer racist abuse from Russian fans.
"There is no place for racism in football," he said. "UEFA and FIFA must take steps to fight against this sickness, but I have never had any specific problems in my career."