Vol. 5 Num 994 Sun. March 18, 2007  

Makelele in a quandary

Chelsea have indicated they will not begin negotiations over a new contract for Claude Makelele until November at the earliest and hinted that any deal will depend on the midfield enforcer quitting international football.Makelele has only one more year remaining on his contract at the London club after the end of this season and Chelsea's failure to offer a new deal has led to speculation about his future.

Now Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has explained there will be no talks until next season and suggested Makelele's promise to retire from international football could be the key to successful negotiations.

He said: "One thing is Makelele playing for Chelsea and another is Makelele playing for Chelsea and for France. It's different. One thing is for example after the game against Tottenham on Monday I could give him 10 days off and he can go and relax to recharge his batteries and be back strong again to play.

"Another thing is when a 34-year-old man should be resting he's playing international matches. And when he comes back to Chelsea he's not coming back to play he's coming back to rest.

"My opinion is we respect the fact that he wants to play for his national team, it's his choice and his decision. We respect the fact his national team wants him there because he's a very good player so there is no conflict, so please don't say there is.

"But he's not playing any more with Chelsea the number of matches he normally would be doing. At this age, still playing with the national team, my opinion is he has still one more year of contract, which ends in 2008.

"And there is no reason in March 2007 to think about July 2008, it's too early.

"At his age it's time to analyse his performance month after month and year after year. And next year around this moment, between November 2007 and March 2008, I think Chelsea should analyse his future.

"But in this moment he has one more year of contract so he's in a safe situation and Chelsea is very happy to have him.

"For instance I think in the last game against Manchester City he was our the best player. But the game before he didn't play, and that's the kind of work we have to do with Maka at this moment."