Gallas set to be makeweight in Shevchenko deal

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The Independent Online

Chelsea may have reluctantly to sanction the sale of William Gallas if they are to sign their No 1 summer transfer target, Milan's Andrei Shevchenko.

An announcement was expected yesterday about the striker's future. But a meeting with the club's vice-president Adriano Galliani was postponed and will now take place this evening.

The Premiership champions still expect to sign the Ukrainian for ¤50m (£35.2m) and it is understood that the player flew into Milan yesterday, from Kiev, to relay that he had decided to leave after seven years and finally succumb to Roman Abramovich's overtures.

A furious Milan have indicated they want Shevchenko, 29, to write an open letter to their fans to explain his decision ­ especially as last week he was offered the contract extension he had requested taking him up to the age of 35.

Shevchenko underwent three hours of treatment yesterday on the injured left knee that is threatening his involvement in Ukraine's opening World Cup game.

He later left the Milanello, Milan's training ground, saying: "I cannot say anything yet ­ first I have to speak to Galliani. I will not meet Galliani today ­ perhaps tomorrow and maybe in the evening." Milan's ­ and the player's ­ advisers insisted there was no sinister reason for the delay but Gallas's agent, Pierre Frelot, is due to meet with Chelsea officials today.

The French defender, who has one year left on his contract, is desperate to leave Stamford Bridge and it is understood that Milan is his preferred destination.

Milan are also interested in another of Frelot's clients, the striker Didier Drogba, and his future will also be discussed at the meeting with Chelsea's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, although he is more likely to stay.

Chelsea's manager, Jose Mourinho, is loath to lose either player but may agree to Gallas's exit ­ he has one year left on his contract and has said he will not sign a new one ­ if it is the Shevchenko "deal-breaker".

Sources at Chelsea have dismissed striker Hernan Crespo's claims he has been offered a new contract. The Argentinian, 30, wants to return to Italy, where his wife is from, but suggested Chelsea wanted him to sign a new deal. But sources said Crespo is among those who will be allowed to leave, especially if Shevchenko signs.

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