Chelsea Football Club have today confirmed that the midfield trio of Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti and Joe Cole will depart the club this summer, after the remainder of their respective contracts expire in July.
In an official statement the club thanked the players for their services throughout their time at Chelsea and wished them all well in the future.
Whilst it had been widely speculated that the players released were undergoing contract negotiations that had yet to be finalised, it will come as a shock to many the timing of the news.
Joe Cole’s departure in particular is bound to resonate with every Chelsea fan as despite his lack of appearances this season, remained a crowd favourite, a tag which was cemented further after a spectacular finish against Manchester United at Old Trafford this season that showed the players undoubted potential.
Whilst Cole refused to be drawn on his future after this summers World Cup, where he was a surprise last minute addition to Fabio Cappello’s England squad, the player spoke of “a story to be told another day” in his press conference this afternoon, suggesting there are many more questions that supporters will want answered.
Regardless of the situation, the image of boyhood Chelsea follower Cole adorning the shirt of another Premier League team next season and lining up against his former club, whilst being a sight they could never have previously envisaged, is something very poignant indeed.
Full report to follow.