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Joe Cole and Michael Ballack to leave Chelsea

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Cole refuses to discuss future

Chelsea have confirmed that Joe Cole and Michael Ballack are to leave the club on free transfers this summer.

Cole, 28, will depart at the start of July after the Premier League champions reportedly said they would not offer the England midfielder a fresh deal.

Germany midfielder Ballack, 33, who has been with Chelsea since 2006, will also not have his contract renewed.

Chelsea also said right-back Juliano Belletti will be leaving when his deal expires at the end of this month.

Cole joined Chelsea from West Ham for £6.6m in 2003 and is in South Africa preparing for the World Cup.

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His departure from Stamford Bridge will surprise many as he is expected to play an important role for England manager Fabio Capello in South Africa.

"We would like to thank him for his dedicated years of service and wish him well in his future career," read a Chelsea statement.

He struggled to hold down a starting berth in the Chelsea team during the 2009/10 season after returning from a serious knee injury last September.

Cole made 26 league appearances and scored two goals in the campaign - including a vital strike in the 2-1 victory over title rivals Manchester United in April.

Reports surfaced during the season that Cole's future was in doubt as contract negotiations over a new contract stalled, with suggestions that the player and his representatives angered Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich with their hard-line stance over wages.

Cole featured for England in the World Cup warm-up victory over Japan and scored in the 3-0 friendly victory over Platinum Stars on Monday.

Michael Ballack (left) and Joe Cole
Ballack and Cole will be high-profile departures from Stamford Bridge

He appeared in front of the media at an England press conference in South Africa on Wednesday and was reluctant to talk about the Chelsea situation.

"I am just focused on the World Cup," he said. "I'll leave that with my agent. I just want to get my head down and try and train and play well.

"My future will sort itself out. It won't distract me. It has been going on for a while and it is a story to be told at another time.

"I want to try and do my best for England over the next few weeks."

His availability will alert a number of Premier League clubs, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City all linked to the player.

Last week, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp - who managed Cole at West Ham - told BBC Radio 5 live: "I've got a feeling he may have agreed a deal with somebody.

"I don't think it's going to be Tottenham that sign him but if he hasn't agreed a deal with somebody and he doesn't stay at Chelsea then we would be interested."

Cole played 282 times for Chelsea, scoring 39 goals, and won three Premier League titles and three FA Cups.

Ballack was set to captain Germany at the World Cup but was ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury suffered in May's FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth.

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His contract also expires at the end of June and in May he was confident a new deal with Chelsea could be struck, telling Germany's Bild newspaper: "Chelsea are absolutely my first option."

Ballack was signed by former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on a free transfer from Bayern Munich in 2006.

He made 167 appearances for the club, scoring 26 goals - which helped Chelsea clinch their first title since 2006 this year - while also winning three FA Cups.

Chelsea say that he will remain at their Cobham training base for treatment on the ankle until it is healed.

Ballack's agent Michael Becker said the player would have been willing to take a pay cut and would have accepted a one-year deal with an option for a second year, based on appearances.

Becker said Ballack, who is on holiday in Miami, was "completely surprised" by the news.

"He has not spoken to Chelsea for three months," Becker told German broadcaster RTL.

Belletti, 33, joined Chelsea from Barcelona in 2007 for an undisclosed fee and leaves after completing his three-year deal.



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see also
Joe Cole seeks start against US
09 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Cole to leave Chelsea - Redknapp
01 Jun 10 |  Chelsea
Ancelotti 'sure' of Joe Cole deal
12 Mar 10 |  Chelsea
Cole hit by fresh injury setback
16 Jul 09 |  Chelsea
Cole completes Chelsea move
06 Aug 03 |  Chelsea
Germany career not over - Ballack
19 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Injured Ballack out of World Cup
17 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Ballack agrees new Chelsea deal
31 May 09 |  Chelsea
Chelsea announce Ballack capture
15 May 06 |  Chelsea


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