Belfast Telegraph

Ballack surprised by Chelsea exit

Michael Ballack looks set for a return to Germany after learning of a ‘surprising’ release by Chelsea yesterday.

The international midfielder, who is missing the World Cup after picking up an injury playing for the Blues in the FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth, is a reported target for Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen and Steve McClaren’s new club Wolfsburg.

In a day of departures, it was revealed Ballack would join right-back Juliano Belletti and Joe Cole in looking for a new club this summer.

Ballack leaves Chelsea after four years, with the club unwilling to offer the 33-year-old the two-year contract he was reported to be holding out for.

The midfielder’s agent, Michael Becker, last night claimed the player, who is currently on holiday in Miami, was “completely surprised” by the news.

“He has not spoken to Chelsea for three months,” added Becker.

Becker said Ballack would have been willing to take a pay cut to stay with Chelsea and that he would even have accepted a one-year deal with an option for a second year based on appearances.

The departure of Brazil World Cup winner Belletti, meanwhile, was far from a surprise.

The 33-year-old joined Chelsea in the summer of 2007 from Barcelona and was their first-choice right-back during his first season.

But his first-team chances have been limited since then and he leaves following the completion of his three-year contract with a return home his likely destination.

Belfast Telegraph

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