Football

Chelsea release another star

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Chelsea have confirmed midfield duo Joe Cole and Michael Ballack and defender Juliano Belletti will leave the club this summer.

The Barclays Premier League champions confirmed the departures of Cole and Ballack on Wednesday morning after the parties failed to reach agreement on new contracts and on Wednesday afternoon it was announced Belletti would join them.

Cole, who is part of England's World Cup squad in South Africa, has been linked with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.

As negotiations over a new contract at Stamford Bridge dragged on, it became increasingly likely Cole's seven-year stay would come to an end. Manager Carlo Ancelotti had repeatedly stressed his desire to hang on to the midfielder but behind the scenes the parties could not reach an agreement.

Chelsea's stance is also likely to have been influenced by Cole's failure to hold down a regular starting spot this season.

The Londoner had been a key player in the rise of the club under owner Roman Abramovich but a serious knee injury suffered in January 2009 put him out for eight months and on his return he struggled to rediscover his best form.

Cole arrived at Stamford Bridge in a £6.6million deal from West Ham in the summer of 2003 and helped the Blues win their first Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho in 2005 and 2006.

Ballack leaves Chelsea after four years with the club unwilling to offer the German the two-year contract he was seeking.

The 33-year-old arrived at Stamford Bridge following the end of his contract at Bayern Munich with a reputation as one of Europe's best players and on the back of a brilliant World Cup. But he has largely failed to live up to that billing, with injuries keeping him out of the team for lengthy spells.

Ballack helped Chelsea to their first Premier League title in four years this season while he also won the FA Cup three times.

Belletti, 33, was signed by Mourinho in August 2007 and leaves after completing his three-year contract.

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Topics:
Joe Cole
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
Juliano Belletti
Michael Ballack

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