Shevchenko has future at Chelsea

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The Independent Football

Andrei Shevchenko has been given a clear, if unexpected, sign that he still has a future at Chelsea. The striker, 32, had been expected to leave the club before the 1 September transfer deadline, after playing nothing more than a fringe role before his substitute appearance in Wednesday's 3-1 victory at Sunderland.

Shevchenko returned to Stamford Bridge this summer, having been farmed out to Milan on loan last season where he failed to establish himself in Carlo Ancelotti's side, and, with the pair reunited in west London, the player's prospects looked bleak.

Ancelotti, however, insisted yesterday that Shevchenko remains an important part of his plans and that he expects the player to stay. "At the present he is a Chelsea player," said the Chelsea manager. "And in the future I expect the situation to remain the same. He is in better condition now than he was last season. He has worked very hard and has a good position in the squad.

"He has made a good impression and I like his work. Of course he wants to start games but there is a good atmosphere in the squad. He knows it's not easy and there is competition in the team." Shevchenko's wages, thought to be around £120,000 per week, have undoubtedly acted as a disincentive to any club eyeing a move for a player who is entering the final year of the four-year contract he signed when he switched from Milan in a £30m transfer.

But Ancelotti is confident the former European football of the year, who will be among the substitutes at Fulham tomorrow, has sufficient motivation despite his reduced status and advancing years. "I think he had a problem when he first came to England," said the Italian. "But I think he has overcome that and now shows his quality. The player wants to play and when you don't play it can be difficult to maintain motivation. He doesn't have a mental problem. Sheva is not too old. If I'm old, then Sheva is a kid."

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