Spanish La Liga giant Real Madrid's French defensive midfielder, Lassana Diarra, is reportedly close to sealing a move to Turkish Süper Lig side Fenerbache, according to statements from Turkish newspaper Milliyet [Google translated].
Diarra, 27, had earlier been heavily linked with a move to Tottenham last summer. Spurs' manager Harry Redknapp is a known admirer of the player, having worked with him at Portsmouth. A recent IBTimes UK report suggested the London club were ready to move for him again, at the end of the season. French Ligue 1 side Paris St Germain are also in the race to sign Diarra, however, it now seems Fenerbahce are in pole position, following reports they are ready to match his Real Madrid salary.
The Milliyet report adds that Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, speaking at the press conference before the Champions League semi-final (first leg) against Bayern Munich, confirmed the possibility of Diarra's transfer to the Turkish club. Apparently he also said that PSG had placed an offer for the player and if the Istanbul club could offer a similar or better deal, he would leave it to the midfielder to choose his next club.
The turning point, for the Turkish side, was reportedly the wage factor. Diarra is believed to earn €5.5 million annually at Madrid. The French club offered him a four-year contract worth €6 million; after tax, the figure dropped to €3.8 million. The Turks, on the other hand, are apparently willing to break their wage structure and offer him €5.5 million a year. Diarra's contract with Madrid ends next summer and if Fenerbahce can agree on a transfer fee, then it looks like the Frenchman might be on his way to Istanbul.
Leading Spanish newspaper AS had earlier claimed Diarra flew to Turkey to watch the team in action on 7 April and also had dinner with club directors. Diarra took advantage of the fact that he was not named in Mourinho's match-day squad for the crucial home game against Valencia. In fact, AS points out Diarra has not featured for Madrid since 21 March, when he was substituted off during a game against Villareal.
Diarra moved to Madrid from Portsmouth in early 2009. However, after a bright start to his career with the Galacticos, he has lost his way and is now unhappy at the lack of game time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Furthermore, with the likes of Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Fabio Coentrao, Hamit Altintop, Nuri Sahin and Esteban Granero giving him competition for a central midfield role in the Madrid first-team, Diarra may just welcome a summer move.