Cole and Ballack exit Blues
Joe Cole and Michael Ballack will leave Chelsea when their current contracts expire at the end of the month, the club have confirmed.
By Rob Parrish
Last Updated: 09/06/10 12:29pm
Joe Cole and Michael Ballack will leave Chelsea when their current contracts expire at the end of the month.
The midfield duo had been tipped to depart Stamford Bridge over the summer and the Blues have now confirmed that they will be heading for pastures new.
England international Cole has been linked with host of rival Premier League clubs, who will now be able to secure his services on a Bosman free transfer.
Manchester United and Tottenham are the favourites for his signature, with Spurs boss Harry Redknapp having confirmed his interest, while Arsenal and Liverpool could also come into the equation.
The creative 28-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge from West Ham in a £6.6million deal in the summer of 2003 and went on to make 282 appearances for the club, bagging 40 goals.
Cole suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in January 2009 but battled his way back to full fitness to play his part in the Blues' Premier League and FA Cup success this season, scoring a deft goal in the vital victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in April.
His late season form was enough to secure a place in England manager Fabio Capello's 23-man squad for the World Cup, where he has the chance to showcase his talents to potential suitors this summer.
A statement on the club's official website read: "We would like to thank him for his dedicated years of service and wish him well in his future career."
Germany international skipper Ballack will not feature at the global showpiece having suffered an ankle injury during the FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth.
The veteran midfielder arrived on a free transfer from Bayern Munich in 2006 and went on to score 25 goals in his 168 outings for the West London club.
Chelsea added: "All at the club would like to place on record our thanks for his service and wish him luck for the future."
With the duo deemed surplus to requirements by coach Carlo Ancelotti, it appears likely the Blues will dip into the transfer market to bolster their squad as they look to defend their domestic double and challenge for UEFA Champions League glory.