Sport Everton midfielder Ross Barkley will be offered a new improved contract for his breakthrough into the first team this season

Barkley has broken into the first-team this season and has been tipped for inclusion in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad after making his England debut in September

Leverkusen confirm interest in Ballack

Bayer Leverkusen have confirmed their interest in signing Michael Ballack after he was released by Chelsea earlier this week.

Ballack blames Abramovich for Chelsea exit

Michael Ballack has claimed the decision to release him was made by Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea agree deal to keep Anelka until 2013

Chelsea are to follow their decision to release both Joe Cole and Michael Ballack by announcing that they have agreed a two-year contract extension with striker Nicolas Anelka.

Belletti joins Chelsea exodus

Defender Juliano Belletti will join Joe Cole and Michael Ballack in leaving Chelsea this summer, the club have confirmed.

Chelsea confirm Ballack and Cole will leave

Chelsea have today confirmed midfield duo Joe Cole and Michael Ballack will leave the club this summer.

Chelsea let Joe Cole walk away

Ancelotti happy for England star to leave after demand for £30,000-a-week pay rise. Ballack also released on a free transfer

Group D: Australia, Germany, Ghana, Serbia

Our unmissable guide to the World Cup: Injuries leave Germans vulnerable

Löw puts on a brave face after spate of injuries

German coach Joachim Löw insisted yesterday that his squad would go into the World Cup in top form and good heart despite suffering a cruel string of injuries which has ruled out several first-choice players.

<b>RONALDINHO </b><br/><br/>
<b>Age:</b> 30<br/>
<b>Club:</b> AC Milan<br/>
<b>Country:</b> Brazil<br/>
Brazil coach Dunga has shocked some and disappointed many with the omission of Ronaldinho, a player who has twice won the Fifa World Player of the Year award. Despite his appearance in Nike's Write the Future World Cup adverts, Ronaldinho only made the standby list.<br/>
Ronaldinho started all five of Brazil's games in the last World Cup but after poor form and lack of fitness for almost three years, his World Cup dream has been halted as Dunga lost patience. <br/>
Critics of Dunga point to the international record of Ronaldinho who has 87 caps and scored 32 goals as a reason for his inclusion to the squad. Ronaldinho's club form has improved this season as he scored 12 league goals for AC Milan under the guidance of former Brazil star Leonardo.<br/>
Dunga explained his judgement:

World Cup Watch: High profile rejects

In anticipation of the World Cup, The Independent will be running down the key people and factors to keep an eye out for in South Africa with our World Cup Watch series.

World Cup Countdown: Returning Torres boosts Spanish hopes

Spain striker Fernando Torres has trained for the first time since undergoing a knee operation on 18 April and should make a full recovery in time for the finals. The 26-year-old Liverpool player joined Vicente del Bosque's squad in light training yesterday, featuring in a half-hour practice match. His return was a boost for the whole team, defender Gerard Piqué said. "Fernando is an important player for us and hopefully he can be ready for the first World Cup match."

Ballack's replacement pleads for patience from German fans

Germany midfielder Sami Khedira does not want to be compared with Michael Ballack, the man he is set to replace at the World Cup in South Africa this summer.

World Cup Countdown: No Frings to replace Ballack

23 days to go
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