Vol. 5 Num 694 Sat. May 13, 2006  

Chelsea strive to keep Gallas

Chelsea have ruled out selling William Gallas despite the French defender announcing that he was determined to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

Gallas, 28, told French sports daily L'Equipe that he wanted to move to the continent in search of a new challenge and to find a club where he can play regularly in his preferred position of centreback.

But Chelsea, who have offered him a new four-year deal, said they would hold him to his current contract, which has another year to run.

"William Gallas has made a great contribution to Chelsea since he has been here and he has been offered a very good new contract in recognition of that," the club said in a statement.

"That contract is still on offer and we would like him to be at Chelsea for the next four years.

"If it is not accepted, then William is still under contract for one more year and we will not be encouraging offers for players that we want to keep.

"Under Premier League rules he would be able to leave at the end of next season on a free transfer."

Gallas has grown frustrated at Stamford Bridge as manager Jose Mourinho has tended to pick John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho as his first-choice centreback pairing with Gallas more frequently used at fullback.

"I have always done everything Chelsea have asked," Gallas told Friday's L'Equipe. "They put me on the right, on the left, in the middle. It's true I complained a bit at the start but after that I never gave them any problems."

He added he had already made his decision to leave Stamford Bridge. "I have made my decision and that's that. I want to leave Chelsea. I want to have another experience elsewhere," he added.

"I have been at Chelsea for five years and I have given my all for the Chelsea shirt which has my utmost respect. I don't think I can be criticised in any way and, in any case, I haven't received any criticism.

"But I have always been very ambitious and I want to experience as much as I can as a professional footballer. I want to keep improving and, after France and England, I would like to try a different league.

"My mind is made up. A footballer's career does not go on forever and at 29 years old it's a good time to change club."