Chelsea midfielder Billy Clifford has confirmed he's leaving Stamford Bridge in search of regular first-team football after failing to make a breakthrough in the Premier League.
The 21-year-old has spent the past 13 years at the west London club, coming through the Blues academy before turning professional in 2010.
A year later he signed a four-year contract extension taking him to 2015, but has mutually agreed to terminate his deal with less than 12 months remaining.
Billy Clifford quotes
"Cancellation of my contract at Chelsea Fc was to go and find regular first team football," he tweeted.
"Would like to take the time to thank all the staff, players and supports for the amazing 13 years Iv had at the club and wish them the very best in the future.
"Chelsea will always be in my heart."
Clifford spent time on loan at Colchester United and Yeovil Town in 2013, and last season enjoyed a brief spell in Belgium with Royal Antwerp, playing under the tutelage of former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
But, after struggling to make significant strides towards the Chelsea first-team, the youngster has been granted his wish by Blues boss Jose Mourinho to sever ties with his boyhood club in pursuit of more regular action.
Roman Abramovich has tasked Mourinho with bringing through exciting young talent, which is part of the reason for the recent departures of veteran stars like Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
Developing young talent
As is club policy, Chelsea only offer players over the age of 30 rolling 12 month contracts, and after deciding against this for either of the aforementioned stars they left on a free transfer.
Cesc Fabregas was signed from Barcelona in a big-money £27 million deal, and the Spaniard is expected to fill the void left by club legend Lampard. There are a number of other exciting midfield prospects on the fringe of Mourinho's squad.
With competition for places in that area of the pitch arguably at an all-time high, Clifford is likely to find opportunities difficult to come by, and so has perhaps made the right decision opting to leave and try his hand elsewhere.
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