Salomon Kalou is considering turning his back on Chelsea to make a controversial cross-London move to Arsenal under freedom of contract this summer.
The forward, scorer of a valuable Champions League quarter-final winner in midweek, has declined to sign a new deal at Stamford Bridge despite his strong preference to continue playing his football in the capital next season.
The 26 year old has been frustrated both by Chelsea's decision to limit his playing time this season as a punishment for not extending his current contract, and his persistent status as second-choice forward. Kalou made more appearances in his first season - under Jose Mourinho - than in his five subsequent campaigns.
Kalou, who is aware that Chelsea would have accepted a transfer fee for him in the January transfer window, has told friends his ambition is to play for Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger is a known admirer. Though there is significant interest in the Cote d'Ivoire international outside the Premier League, his intention is to remain in London for family and personal business reasons.
Although he has made the first eleven in just seven fixtures this season, Kalou has scored five times for Chelsea; four of his starts coming after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as manager at the beginning of March.
Talking in the aftermath of Tuesday night's 1-0 first-leg victory at Benfica, Kalou said: "I have been told because I didn't sign the contract I was not allowed to play. For me I respect every manager, I respect the choice. I feel maybe sometimes the club never gave me the opportunity to show what I can do. That is a really big frustration for me. Hopefully this is a new beginning and everything will be all right.
"It has been a difficult year for me with the contract and all that. Maybe Andre was building a new team and he was maybe thinking I wasn't part of the future of the club. I never think there is no way I shouldn't have a future at the club.
"For me the most important thing is not to fight for a new deal, it is just to enjoy myself with the team and play the best I can and help the team win the games we have left to play. As long as I do that, I am fine and I am happy with myself."