Kalou signs on and Cole set to follow

Chelsea striker agrees new deal as club prepare to face transfer window ban
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The Independent Football

Chelsea's need to make do and mend, with a transfer window ban looming, was illustrated by a new three-year contract for Salomon Kalou yesterday.

The Ivory Coast international follows Didier Drogba, John Terry, Ashley Cole, John Mikel Obi, Florent Malouda, Hilario and Michael Mancienne in agreeing deals since the end of last season. Kalou's new contract will keep him at Stamford Bridge until 2012 and is believed to be worth around £60,000 a week.

He remains the third man where Chelsea's strikers are concerned; an individual whom Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti have all given playing time to but whose name is not one to set pulses racing when it appears on the team sheet. His inconsistency is also a source of frustration to many supporters. He is a quiet individual, who simply lacks the dominating presence of Drogba, the touch and goalscoring ability of Nicolas Anelka. His goalscoring record says a lot: 31 goals in nearly three and a half years at Chelsea, though that constitutes one in every three starts.

Needs must, though. Kalou's contract was set to expire at the end of the season. This was the first deal renegotiation conducted by new chief executive Ron Gourlay.

Chelsea are prevented from signing any new players for the next two transfer windows after being found guilty of inducing teenager Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with Lens two years ago.

They will appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, but there is a feeling the club may be facing a one-window ban at least. That would mean them not even being able to recall players on season-long loans, so keeping Carlo Ancelotti's present squad together is crucial. If that is the case, the Kalou deal represents something of a boost.

The fact that Arsène Wenger has been interested in taking the player in the past suggests that others might covet his services. "I am very pleased that Salomon has signed a new contract with us as he is an important player for this club," Ancelotti said yesterday.

"He is always well motivated and works hard at his game at all times. Because of this I am sure that Salomon will become an even more important player for Chelsea in the future." Joe Cole may become the next player to be tied to the club, longer term. He has also been offered a new four-year deal.

There was further good news for Ancelotti last night when Chelsea discovered that Michael Ballack will be fit enough to play against Aston Villa on Saturday and could even figure in Germany's clash with Finland tomorrow, despite sustaining a first-half ankle problem against Russia on Saturday. "It is not as serious as we had thought," said Ballack. "During the match it was aching, but afterwards it was not. It is pretty fine now though."