Another week has passed. Lots of speculation and rumours, and some good news, but no actual transfers. Here’s a roundup of the last seven days.
Several fringe players have been linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge. Today it was reported that Tal Ben Haim has agreed a four-year contract with Manchester City worth around £40,000-a-week, while fellow defender Juliano Belletti’s agent hinted that his client would consider a move to Benfica.
Ben Haim joined Chelsea on a free transfer from Bolton last summer, but struggled for form from the outset. The sight of Liverpool’s Fernando Torres skipping past him at Anfield will live long in the memory. Things didn’t improve after that. He made just 13 appearances all season and ended the campaign with a fine of two weeks’ wages after publicly criticising Avram Grant. He will not be missed if his £5m transfer to Eastlands goes through.
Belletti proved more successful in his first season at the Bridge, particularly as an attacking full-back. His goals against Spurs and Wigan were the highlight of an up and down year. Signed from Barcelona by Jose Mourinho as a replacement for Glen Johnson, Belletti has never really got the hang of defending in the Premier League and at times last season made Johnson look like a world beater. The recent signing of Jose Bosingwa from Porto means Belletti is likely to be third choice if he decides against a move.
Claude Makelele’s future remains unclear*. On Monday there were rumours that he had agreed a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain, but these were quickly followed by reports that he would remain at Chelsea at least until the end of his current contract. Although he’s at the tail-end of his career he still has something to offer and I hope he decides to stick around for another season.
There was confusion on Wednesday over Didier Drogba after an agent who works for him, Thierno Seydi, told France Football magazine that his client would sign a new contract at Chelsea if he failed to find another club within 10 days. This was denied by the agent but did little to improve Drogba’s image. One paper reported that Chelsea had turned down a swap deal for Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o.
As for players joining Chelsea, there was very little in the way of new transfer speculation this past week. There were lots more stories linking Real Madrid’s Robinho with a move to the Bridge, but the news that Cristiano Ronaldo will be staying at Old Trafford next season and not joining Real must put any prospective deal for the Brazilian international in doubt.
Sky Sports News ran a story on Thursday that Chelsea are among the clubs chasing Falkirk’s Scott Arfield. The 19-year-old midfielder is said to be one of the best young players in Scotland and up to 12 other clubs from the Premier League and the Championship are regularly checking on him, including Manchester United.
The best news of the week was Wayne Bridge’s decision to sign a new four-year deal, which will run until 2012, and Ricardo Carvalho’s intimation that he wants to stay at Chelsea.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the ongoing Frank Lampard transfer saga. Earlier today Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti told the official Inter website that Lampard wants to join the San Siro club but that Chelsea will decide the player’s future. Nothing new there. Still no word from Lampard himself, but a Chelsea spokesman told BBC Sport that club’s stance was unchanged and that they expect him to see out the remaining year of his current contract. There’s plenty of mileage left in this story.
And that’s about it. Players and staff fly out to China on Sunday for the first match of a five-game pre-season tour of the Far East and Russia. Both Lampard and Drogba are set to travel, but Claudio Pizarro is remaining at Cobham because of ‘injury’. There will be matches in Macau, Malaysia and Moscow, where Chelsea will take part in the Russian Railways tournament involving AC Milan, Sevilla and Lokomotiv Moskva. The first game of pre-season, against Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, kicks off at 13:00 BST on Wednesday. All five matches are live on Chelsea TV.
*Update – 18th July, 22:24: Sky Sports News is reporting that Claude Makelele is due to undergo a medical at Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.
*Update – 21st July, 11:33: Chelsea Football Club has released Claude Makelele on a free transfer after five years at the Bridge. Makelele made 217 appearances in a Chelsea shirt, scoring two memorable goals – a rebound from a penalty he took against Charlton at the end of our first Premier League winning season in 2005, and a 25-yard screamer against Spurs at White Hart Lane in November 2006. A great player who will be missed.
- Related: Read our thoughts on all the latest Chelsea Transfer News