William Gallas will buy himself out of the remaining year of his contract at Chelsea unless the Premiership club agree to sell him within the next two weeks.
Under Fifa rules, the 28-year-old French defender is allowed to make such a move which would cost him £5m. He would then be free to negotiate with other clubs and would be inundated with offers from across Europe. However, Gallas has decided to leave England and wants to test himself in either Italy or Spain - he has already narrowed the clubs he wants to play for down to either Milan, Juventus or Barcelona.
Gallas' decision to leave Stamford Bridge, which was first revealed by The Independent, is a severe blow to Chelsea, who had hoped to persuade him to stay with a significant pay increase. In a meeting with the chief executive, Peter Kenyon, the defender and his representatives will make it clear that his mind is made up.
Gallas hopes Chelsea will understand his wishes and that an amicable agreement can be reached for his transfer after five years at the club but he will carry out his threat to pay up his own contract if he is not listened to. Gallas wants his future decided before the World Cup starts.
The development will disrupt Chelsea's summer transfer plans as they will now have to recruit two players - a new left-back, who is already scheduled to be bought, and a central defender - to cover the loss. Negotiations continue, but an interest has been registered in Roberto Carlos, who is free to leave Real Madrid, for £4m. The Brazilian is expected to be replaced at the Bernabeu by Arsenal's Ashley Cole, who had been Chelsea's first choice for the position.
Gallas is set to be followed out of Chelsea by Eidur Gudjohnsen, who is unhappy at the limited opportunities he has had this season and has been seeking talks for some time.
The Icelander's father, Arnor, who also represents him, confirmed yesterday: "We are still in contact with Chelsea about his future and hopefully by the end of the week we'll have clarification." Gudjohnsen would attract a host of suitors and is keen to stay in the Premiership.
Chelsea are refusing to discuss the future of a number of their players until the end of the season. Wayne Bridge, Glen Johnson, Hernan Crespo and Carlton Cole head a list of those who want to know if they are staying but Chelsea are not taking up the option to buy on-loan midfielder Maniche for £5m.
They have also dropped any interest they had in signing striker Carlos Tevez. Manager Jose Mourinho visited Brazil last week to watch the Argentinian - and others - play for his club Corinthians against River Plate in the Copa Libertadores. The "super-agent" Pini Zahavi has attempted to persuade Mourinho to sign the 22-year-old but has been told that Chelsea have no desire to buy him.
Of more interest remains Andrei Shevchenko, and it is understood that Chelsea are inching towards an agreement to sign the 29-year-old Ukrainian from Milan for €50m (£35.7m). The Italian club has finally agreed to countenance a sale but sources have warned that it may take "up to two months" for the complex negotiations to be concluded and a deal will certainly not be struck before the World Cup.
Although Milan may allow Shevchenko to go, and it appears that he is now keen to leave himself, they are attempting to line up a big-name replacement.
Chelsea's prospects of signing German midfielder Michael Ballack are more certain. A deal, on a Bosman free transfer from Bayern Munich, is expected to be announced once the Bundesliga season ends on Saturday.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has finished third in the Premier League's Golden Gloves Award after keeping 17 clean sheets this season.
Jose Reina's performances - 20 clean sheets - put him ahead of Manchester United's Dutch goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar (18) and Cech, who was last year's winner. American Brad Friedel of Blackburn Rovers and German Jens Lehmann of Arsenal (both 16) completed the top five.
Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o says a friendly feud with Chelsea midfielder Geremi - his Cameroon compatriot - is spurring him on to win next week's Champions' League final against Arsenal.
"Geremi is always flaunting it in my face that he has won two European Cups," Eto'o said yesterday.
"But I ask him if he wants to bet on who will end up winning more European Cups, then he shuts up."
Geremi has two winner's medals from the 1998 and 2000 finals which he won with Real Madrid.
* Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has admitted he may be "dreaming" about signing Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, but is determined not to give up hope. The 28-year-old Ivory Coast striker joined Chelsea for £24m from Marseilles in 2004, and scored 10 goals in 29 league games this term. "Didier is one of the best players in Europe," Aulas said in L'Equipe. "But I think Chelsea want to keep him. However, we will do all we can to get him and continue to dream about him coming here."Reuse content