Ballack, Cole & Belletti released by Chelsea
Michael Ballack, Joe Cole and Belletti will be released by Chelsea when their contracts expire.
London: Germany captain Michael Ballack, England`s Joe Cole and Brazilian veteran Juliano Belletti will be released by Chelsea when their contracts expire at the end of the month, the club said.
The departures of Ballack and Cole on free transfers will spark a scramble to secure the services of two players who have played a key role in the London club`s success in recent years.
Belletti`s exit was less of a surprise but the 33-year-old can expect no shortage of suitors thanks to his versatility and his previous experience with Brazil and Barcelona.
Ballack, also 33, was signed by former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho in 2006 and played his final game for the club in their FA Cup final triumph over Portsmouth last month, a match which ended disastrously for the German after he injured an ankle and was ruled out of the World Cup.
Cole has played himself back into contention for Fabio Capello`s England side despite being marginalised at Stamford Bridge under Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti.
A move to Tottenham and a reunion with Harry Redknapp, his manager at West Ham, now looks the most likely outcome but
Cole has vowed to put the issue of his personal future to one side for what he hopes will be a month-long stay at the World Cup in South Africa.
"I just leave that sort of thing with my agent," he said at an England press conference in Rustenburg.
"What has happened at Chelsea is a story for another day. I just want to get my head down, train well and play well for England. My future will sort itself out."
Cole, 28, joined Chelsea from West Ham for 6.6 million pounds (8 million euros) in 2003.
His availability will alert a number of Premier League clubs, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City also believed to be interested.
Ballack`s agent Michael Becker said the player had been unable to agree a new two-year contract with Chelsea as the club only wanted to offer him a one-year deal.
Becker ruled out speculation that the former Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich playmaker was set to return to the Bundesliga in the colours of Werder Bremen.
"It won`t be Werder," Becker told Germany`s SID sports agency, amid speculation that Werder`s rivals Schalke are interested in talking to Ballack.
"I want to play two more years at the highest level," said Ballack, who is currently on holiday in Miami.
Ballack, who was replaced as Germany captain by Philipp Lahm after the injury ended his World Cup chances, reportedly wants to round off his international career at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine.