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  1. #1
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    Dec 2009

    Default Michael Ballack's Chelsea contract stand-off alerts Dubai clubs

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    Chelsea face competition from an unlikely source for Michael Ballack, with the Germany international the next big-name target for ambitious clubs in Dubai. The former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has also been approached over a lucrative move to the emirate.

    Ballack will become a free agent on 1 July having so far failed to agree an extension to his contract at Stamford Bridge. The 33-year-old midfielder, who will miss the World Cup finals with an ankle injury, has expressed a desire to remain with last season's Double winners but has been offered only a 12-month contract by Chelsea and wants a two-year deal.

    Ballack, who used to play for Bayern Munich, has emerged as a target for several teams in Dubai, including Al Wasl and Al Shabab. Last week Al Ahli, the biggest club in the Gulf state, demonstrated their intent to challenge for the Asian Champions League when they announced the signing of Italy's World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, on a free from Juventus.

    Other clubs in Dubai, backed by wealthy owners who are seeking to raise the standard and profile of the United Arab Emirates' Pro League, are also in the market for high-profile figures interested in a lucrative end to their careers.

    A source from the UAE Pro League said: "The clubs here know there are some top names from the Premier League who have reached the end of their time there and are looking for a final move. They are ambitious.

    "Michael Ballack has been approached and he is now the No1 target for clubs. In Italy the chance of bringing [Gennaro] Gattuso here from Milan is being looked at and Cannavaro coming will help that. Inquiries have also been made about Guti at Real Madrid."

    Coaches with Premier League experience, too, have been approached and Eriksson, who will become a free agent after his involvement with the Ivory Coast at the World Cup and has touted himself for the vacancy at Liverpool, is being considered by Al Ahli and Al Ain.
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