Chelsea and Didier Drogba will announce the striker's departure in the next few days, with both sides reconciled to the fact after Saturday's Champions League final.
Drogba's role in the win on penalties over Bayern Munich fuelled speculation that he might stay, but the decision was made some time ago that he would not sign a new contract. The club do not see the logic of giving the Ivorian the two-year deal he wants and being a free agent will be lucrative for Drogba, with the possibility of following Nicolas Anelka to the Chinese super league.
Quotes attributed to Drogba last night said he was prepared for a "leap into the unknown" but the player denied, through the club, that they were his words. In the same report, from France Football magazine, it was claimed Drogba had told his team-mates that he was leaving the club during their open-top bus tour of west London on Sunday. After eight years with Chelsea there could hardly have been a more remarkable finale than the winning penalty in a Champions League final.
Drogba's most likely option is Shanghai Shenhua. The Chinese club have emerged as one of the biggest payers in world football, signing Anelka from Chelsea in January on a two-year deal worth £220,000 a week. While the Chinese club's capacity to pay is not in doubt, they are struggling this season.
The decision on Roberto Di Matteo's future is unlikely to be made this week. The interim manager, having delivered the Champions League and the FA Cup, is playing in the BMW PGA Championship pro-am at Wentworth tomorrow.
Chelsea's chief executive, Ron Gourlay, said: "Now we have to sit down over the next week or two, or however long it takes, because we've got to do what is right for the football club."Reuse content