Shevchenko insists 'I am no spy' for Abramovich

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The Independent Football

Andrei Shevchenko began his fightback last night after a torrent of criticism in recent weeks and insisted that he had been made a scapegoat for Chelsea's problems on and off the pitch.

Shevchenko's frustration with his lack of goals has been accentuated by his unhappiness at off-field rumours that his friendship with Roman Abramovich, the club's owner, has led to a rift with the manager, Jose Mourinho. The Ukraine striker insisted last night he will stay at Chelsea despite his harsh start to life in the Premiership.

Shevchenko said: "My contract runs for four years. I am here now and I am staying here. I am continuing to work to fit inside the team, I have been attacked from all sides but I intend to carry on. I will grit my teeth, I am not a quitter. I just want to be kept out of the politics."

The former Milan marksman said he has been hurt by suggestions that he acts as the eyes and ears of Abramovich. He said: "Those rumours are lies. They have caused hurt to myself and my family. I am a footballer, not a politician. People are crossing the limits in what they are saying about me.

"There are things written about my relationship with Abramovich which [are] over-exaggerated. My relationship with him is the same as every player. He's the president and I am a player ­ it is professional.

"I see him in the dressing room sometimes or at training. We have a quick word but that is natural as we both speak Russian. Maybe I shouldn't speak Russian. Maybe that gives people the wrong idea."

The champions also took the extraordinary step yesterday of announcing on their own website that they had failed to sign Bolton's Tal Ben Haim. Last night it also looked as though Mourinho will miss out on Jorge Andrade, his second-choice new defender.

Deportivo La Coruña have told Chelsea that they will not agree to loan the Portugal international and will only consider a sale ­ which the Premiership champions do not want. There are doubts about Andrade's fitness after a knee ligament injury last year and he has played only twice for his club this season.

While Mourinho is known to be sympathetic to the reasons for not signing Andrade, it is not clear how he feels about the collapse of the negotiations for Ben Haim, the Israeli international who is out of contract in the summer. With John Terry's return from back surgery still not assured ahead of Saturday's crucial Premiership match against Liverpool, only Ricardo Carvalho, among his centre-backs, is definitely fit.

Yesterday, the Chelsea hierarchy announced they had failed to sign Ben Haim with a statement on the website saying "discussions have been unsuccessful". The motives behind that announcement are unclear but they seem to indicate that Abramovich's advisors wish to leave it in no doubt that they are supporting Mourinho in the transfer market.