x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cole sparks a transfer scramble

The League's biggest names are fighting for his signature after it was confirmed the England midfielder will leave Chelsea while Grant awarded work permit at West Ham.

Joe Cole, left, will not be wearing the blue of Chelsea next season.
Joe Cole, left, will not be wearing the blue of Chelsea next season.

The Premier League's biggest names are set to battle it out for Joe Cole's signature this summer after it was confirmed the England midfielder will leave Chelsea. The 28-year-old's future had been the subject of increasing speculation and the Blues announced this morning his seven years at the club will come to an end this month after the two parties failed to agree a new deal. Cole, who signed from West Ham in 2003 for £6.6m (Dh35.243m), will leave on a free transfer. In a day of departures, it was revealed Michael Ballack, the midfielder, and Juliano Belletti, the right-back, are also leaving Stamford Bridge. Cole is currently in South Africa with the England squad and he remained tight-lipped about his future at a press conference yesterday. He said: "I'm just focused on the World Cup at the moment, I'll leave that sort of thing to my agent. "My future will sort itself out. It's been going on a while. It's a story to be told another day." Cole has already been linked with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham, and Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, admitted yesterday he is interested in the former West Ham man. Staying in London could well appeal to Cole, whose wage demands are believed to be a major reason for the breakdown in talks with Chelsea. Ballack will leave Chelsea after four years, with the club unwilling to offer the German the two-year contract he was seeking. A move to join Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid has been mooted. Michael Becker, the player's agent, yesterday claimed the player, who is on holiday in Miami, was "completely surprised" by the news. "He has not spoken to Chelsea for three months," added Becker to German broadcaster RTL. Juliano Belletti will join Cole and Ballack in leaving Chelsea this summer, the club confirmed. The 33-year-old was signed by Mourinho, his former boss, in August 2007 and leaves after completing his three-year contract. Meanwhile, Everton have Joao Silva on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee from Desportivo Das Aves, the Portuguese club. Officials from the club flew to Portugal this week to conclude the transfer of the 20-year-old striker, who has represented his country at Under 20 level and is highly rated in his homeland. Silva will now move to Merseyside before linking up with David Moyes's squad at the start of July for their pre-season tour of Australia. The 6ft 2in forward was the second top scorer in Portugal's second tier, the Liga Vitalis, with 14 goals in 32 appearances last season - his first since turning professional. Elsewhere, West Ham confirmed last night that Avram Grant has had his work permit application approved to allow him to become the club's manager. The Israeli agreed a four-year contract last week to succeed Gianfranco Zola at Upton Park and was awaiting only approval from the Home Office. That has now been secured and he can begin his new role on an official basis. Grant had already made Thomas Hitzlsperger, the former Aston Villa and Stuttgart midfielder, his first signing. David Sullivan and David Gold, the co-chairmen, previously hailed the 55-year-old's appointment as the "beginning of a new era".

Rafael Benitez is set to finalise a deal to become coach of Inter Milan after the Italian club last night confirmed an agreement had been reached with the Spaniard. The Inter president Massimo Moratti announced the club is just awaiting Benitez's signature on a contract after successful talks between the parties in recent days. Moratti said negotiations with Benitez had not taken place in person and confirmed an announcement would be made later today to confirm when Benitez would be officially unveiled as Jose Mourinho's successor. "We have agreed the final details, which were not important things," Moratti said in a statement on the Inter website, www.inter.it. "All that is needed now is a counter-signature. "[On Wednesday] we will tell you when he will be presented." Benitez has been in talks with the European champions since his six-year spell as Liverpool manager was ended by mutual consent last week. Reports in Italy had suggested Benitez would sign a three-year deal worth five million euros per season, but Moratti dismissed those claims as "off track" in terms of "duration and the amount". Benitez may wish to take his Anfield assistant Mauricio Pellegrino, goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero and fitness coach Paco de Miguel with him to the San Siro, with Italian Amedeo Carboni - who played under Benitez as a midfielder at Valencia - also touted as a possible backroom addition.

Xavi and Pedro will head into the World Cup buoyed by the new contracts they have signed at Barcelona. Xavi, the midfield schemer, and Pedro, the forward, have put pen to paper on deals that will keep them at Camp Nou until 2015 and 2016 respectively. Pedro, 22, has agreed a one-year extension on his current deal after establishing himself in the first team with 23 goals in all competitions last season. He scored his first goal for Spain in their 6-0 rout of Poland in a World Cup warm-up against Poland on Tuesday. Adriano, the new AS Roma signing, said the problems that scuppered his last few seasons at Inter Milan are firmly behind him. The Brazilian striker, who signed a three-year contract on Tuesday as a free agent, had been playing at home for Flamengo. His three spells with Inter ended on a sour note as he struggled with alcohol problems following the death of his father. But he said: "I am more mature than I was the last time I was in Italy. I am a different Adriano today. I went back to Brazil and I have changed." Simone Pepe, the Italy winger, is joining Juventus on loan for a year from Serie A rival Udinese. Pepe, who is with the Italy national team at the World Cup, will become a Juventus player on July 1, with the Turin club paying Udinese ?2.6m for his loan during the 2010-11 season. Juventus have an option to make the deal a permanent one with a three-year contract for ?7.5m in 2011. Pepe played 104 times for Udinese, scoring 14 times and has won 15 Italy caps since making his debut against Bulgaria in 2008. * Agencies