Ballack confirms talks with Chelsea

April 13, 2006

BERLIN -- Germany captain Michael Ballack said on Thursday he was in serious talks with Chelsea over a move to the English champions from Bayern Munich.

Speaking at a book presentation in Munich, Ballack said he and his agent Michael Becker had yet to agree a deal with Chelsea but added that he was impressed by the west London club.

"Nothing has been decided yet and nothing signed but I'm in serious talks with Chelsea," Ballack told reporters. The 29-year-old said he had thought long and hard about whether to move abroad or not.

Ballack has spoken directly with Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho. "We've talked," Ballack said. "You can assume that I had a good feeling during that conversation. I have a feeling for myself and I know what I want."

The midfielder's contract at Bayern runs out at the end of the season. He has rejected a reported offer of 36 million euros ($43.76 million) to sign a new deal with the German champions.

Ballack's agent had said on Wednesday that they were in advanced negotiations with Chelsea about a move to London.

Ballack added in Munich on Thursday that he hoped the transfer could be completed before the World Cup begins on June 9 so that discussions or speculation about his future would not interfere with Germany's preparations for the tournament.

"At the age of 29 this is my last chance to make a move abroad," Ballack said. "Chelsea is a top club that is very strong in the league in England and play very, very good in international competition."

MOTIVES QUESTIONED

Ballack admitted that he was annoyed at Bayern Munich executives for recently questioning his motives and character.

Bayern Munich commercial manager Uli Hoeness told Kicker newspaper on Monday that he believed Ballack was interested in getting acquainted with a "new currency" more than a new language or culture.

Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had also questioned Ballack's character in big matches.

"I was a bit irritated by the comments from Uli in the last few weeks," said Ballack.

"You shouldn't make a move because of the money. It's great to earn so much as a professional soccer player but money doesn't mean anything when you're going about your profession day in and day out. The only thing that counts is sport."