Bargains to be had at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have informed the Premier League that they will not renew Joe Cole’s contract, making him free to leave the club next month. The news comes just 24 hours after the midfielder played his way into Fabio Capello’s plans for England’s opening World Cup group game on Saturday.
The Independent learnt yesterday that contract talks with the player are now over and Roman Abramovich has sanctioned the departure of the player on 1 July. Chelsea have also decided that Michael Ballack, currently injured and out of the World Cup finals, will not have his deal renewed. The Brazilian utility man Juliano Belletti will also leave the club next month.
Chelsea have gone as far as lodging the status of Cole, Ballack and Belletti as free agents with the Football Association and the Premier League. Cole will be the most sought-after of the three with Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City all interested in signing the 28-year-old.
Crucial to the decision was Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti and he has the full backing of Abramovich. Increasingly, the player found himself marginalised in the title run-in under Ancelotti. Both parties also found themselves a long way apart in terms of Cole’s salary level on any potential new contract.
Cole has impressed in England’s warm-up games and has a good chance of starting the team’s opening World Cup match against the US on Saturday. The Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp would appear to be in pole position to sign the player, although Spurs have never before paid upwards of £100,000 a week, the kind of salary that Cole would expect to command. Redknapp, who brought Cole through from the academy as West Ham manager, publicly stated on Monday that he would like to sign the player.
The decision has been made partly for financial reasons, as Chelsea did not want to be held to ransom. Cole wanted a £30,000-a-week pay rise on his existing contract of around £80,000 a week. Earlier in the season, Chelsea made Cole an offer which was rejected, and there has been no further offer made. Both sides have now accepted that Cole will be free to leave Chelsea and the World Cup will provide him with the perfect shop window in which to parade his talents.
Ballack’s last action for Chelsea was when he limped out of the FA Cup final with an ankle injury, a problem that has since ruled him out of the World Cup. The German midfielder, who will be 34 in September, wanted a two-year deal but Chelsea only offered one year, an offer that has since been withdrawn. Ballack became the highest paid player in the world on £130,000 a week when he signed on a free transfer from Bayern Munich in 2006. He played 167 games for Chelsea, scoring 26 goals. He is likely to return to Germany although he also has received offers from clubs in America and the United Arab Emirates. (Independent)
Whilst one can see the motives behind Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to not continue to employ Joe Cole and Michael Ballack it does seem that Chelsea’s passing up of the international pair will benefit any Premier League club, or indeed those abroad, who decide that these are two quality players will a lot to offer.
There has been a mass of interest in 28 year old England man Cole and it seems fairly likely that a move to either Arsenal, Tottenham or Manchester United is on the cards. Injury first put the former West Ham man out of the first team picture and under Ancelotti is seemed he was deemed as a replacement rather than first choice player. His performance at the World Cup could help even more interest develop in his very many talents.
Ballack is a different kettle of fish. At 33 he is clearly about to embark on what might be his final move and a move back to Germany would appear to be the most likely destination unless the battling midfielder decides to chase the money to the MLS or the United Arab Emirates.
Either way Chelsea feel confident enough in their squad to allow both to run out their deals and that says as much about the manner in which Ancelotti has the west London side purring at present although the club will probably take this opportunity to recruit come more strength in depth and perhaps line up moves for young talent to help reverse the trend of a club seemingly packed with players nearing 30 or indeed over 30 years of age.
The midfield pair amassed a total of 330 Blues starts between them and netted 65 goals.