Pay dispute hits Shevchenko's Milan loan

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The Independent Football

Chelsea are in talks with Milan to allow Andrei Shevchenko to return to his former club – but are refusing to agree to the Italian club's request that they partly fund his £121,000-a-week wages.

The Ukrainian has two years left on his present contract and Chelsea are prepared to allow him to go out on loan which, in itself, would represent a huge loss on the £31m they paid for the 31-year-old two seasons ago.

Shevchenko has endured a miserable time at Chelsea and is unlikely to feature under their new manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari. He has been constantly linked with a move back to Milan and a series of meetings have taken place over the summer.

Chelsea had hoped to include a move for Kaka as part of the deal but that has been ruled out by Milan, though they have continued to talk about taking Shevchenko back. The Milan chairman, Silvio Berlusconi, met Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, in Sardinia last Thursday.

Yesterday Silvano Ramaccioni, a Milan director, told the Italian radio station Radio Goal: "We are close to the end of the deal and I hope these little things that have to be fulfilled are done soon."

Ramaccioni added: "Shevchenko in the Rossoneri shirt – there really isn't much more to be done. I would be extremely delighted if Shevchenko returns to Milan."

Chelsea were last night disputing that claim and insist that if Milan want to take Shevchenko, who is the club's most prolific goalscorer of all time with 127 goals in 208 games, they will also have to take on his wages. At present, Milan have said they are not prepared to do that and have asked Chelsea to bankroll a portion of the money.

Manchester City were last night discussing which transfer targets to go for before the window closes at the end of August with their executive chairman, Garry Cook, admitting they had given up hope of signing the Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz, for whom they made a £12m offer last week. "It's fair to say the window is closing – and that Blackburn have closed it on us," he said.

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