Makelele to leave Chelsea but Drogba is left behind
The Luiz Felipe Scolari revolution at Chelsea continued yesterday when it emerged that Claude Makelele is to leave the club this week in a deal that will take him to Paris Saint-Germain.
Didier Drogba was also left behind as Chelsea embarked on their pre-season tour of the Far East yesterday, although it is understood that the club have resolved to keep the striker after failing to find a suitable replacement.
Makelele is set to depart this week after five years at Chelsea in which he has played a central role in the club's success. There will be a nominal fee paid by the French club for the 35-year-old and he will sign a two-year deal with an option of another year. Although Makelele will have to take a drop in wages, the overall value of the deal should exceed that which is left on his final year at Stamford Bridge.
Makelele was not on the flight to China yesterday and his obvious replacement is Deco. However, Drogba was the more notable absence – the club saying that he is staying behind to recover from a knee injury. The eagerness of the Chelsea hierarchy to be rid of the Ivorian in the immediate aftermath of his red card in the Champions League final has not been matched by the eagerness of any of Europe's biggest clubs in paying the £20m price Chelsea want.
More importantly, there is no obvious replacement for Drogba, even though Chelsea consider themselves still in the running to sign the Brazilian playmaker Kaka from Milan. A very different kind of player to the targetman role that Drogba fulfils, the endgame is approaching in that particular saga.
Milan are waiting for Kaka to make clear his intentions for the next season, just as Andrei Shevchenko did two years ago when – after months of protesting otherwise – he outlined his desire to join Chelsea. Although Adriano Galliani, the club's president, is understood to have turned down one offer already from Chelsea there is no way that they would knock back an offer of around €100m [£79m] – the kind of sum that would buy most mid-ranking Serie A clubs, lock, stock and barrel.
Milan anticipate that Kaka will be asked by Chelsea to make it clear that he wants to leave, thus paving the way for a deal. Although they do not wish to be regarded as a selling club anymore than Manchester United do over Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italians were not over-reliant on Kaka last season. If anything, their star performer was Andrea Pirlo in a season in which they failed to qualify for the Champions League.
Kaka's advisor Diogo Kotscho has intimated that an agreement is close between the two clubs despite Galliani rejecting an initial bid from Roman Abramovich. For now, Scolari has embarked on his first assignment as Chelsea manager without his young protégé. Chelsea's first game on their tour of the Far East is on Wednesday against Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals, they play a further game in China and another in Malaysia before moving on to Moscow for two games at the start of August. Milan are competing in the same tournament in Russia.
Michael Ballack will join up with the squad later and Chelsea have also learned that Salomon Kalou will miss part of the season when he plays for the Ivory Coast at the Olympics in Beijing next month.
Scolari said yesterday: "The players are not totally ready yet but we are starting to build a new team and a new philosophy. This is just the beginning and I expect after these five games that I have a general idea about all the players and a system."