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By ESPN Staff

Ballack: 'I am in serious negotiations with Chelsea'

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon has confirmed the club are in detailed negotiations with Bayern Munich captain Michael Ballack.

The German international skipper revealed earlier today that he was in 'serious negotiations' with the reigning Premiership champions and now Kenyon has underlined Chelsea's firm interest in the 29-year-old.

Ballack is available on a free transfer after rejecting the offer of a new deal from the German giants and Kenyon admits the Londoners are in deep negotiations with the player about a summer move to Stamford Bridge.

'I would echo that we are in serious negotiations,' Kenyon told BBC Radio London 94.9.

'Clearly he is an outstanding and big player so I think we are in good, serious negotiations with him and would echo what he said.

'We are at a good stage and I am delighted as to where we are.'

Ballack said today: 'I am in serious negotiations with Chelsea. Nothing is signed as yet but I know what I want.'

'I have always wanted to play abroad. At 29 years old, this is my last chance to make the step and play abroad.

'Chelsea are a top club who are very strong in the English league and they have played some very, very good matches internationally.'

According to reports in his homeland, Ballack has spoken directly to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

He added: 'We've talked. You can assume that I had a good feeling during that conversation.'

Earlier today Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness admitted the Bundesliga leaders had given up hope of retaining the services of Ballack.

'From our point of view, it is clear he will leave the club so there are no more efforts to keep him,' he said.

'It is a professional situation. His contract is finished so it is up to him to decide.'

Hoeness has come under fire from Ballack's agent Michael Becker for claiming the midfielder is only leaving Bayern for financial reasons. Becker claims Ballack is making a 'sports-related decision' but Hoeness has maintained his stance today.

'I have not criticised Michael Ballack but only made an observation,' he added. I am not at all disappointed in him or his behaviour. That is totally normal.

'It is totally wrong to describe us as being angry or anything like that. It is totally the opposite. He did wonderfully here and now it is time to get a new club and maybe get more money.

'People who know me will understand that I don't think it's a problem what I said. You need to stay with the facts.'

For his part, Ballack insists the decision to leave Bayern was a difficult one.

'I have thought about it for a long time,' he said.

The Chelsea players claimed they were focused on the visit to Bolton at the weekend instead of the possible arrival of Ballack.

Blues captain John Terry, named Chelsea's 2006 player of the year' at the Grosvenor Hotel earlier tonight, said: 'We've heard nothing at all.

'We've got other things on our minds and that is going to Bolton at the weekend and picking up three points and then getting another three points on Monday.

'Those are the only things on the players' minds at the moment. Maybe the club are in serious talks with him but people at the club are employed to do that kind of business and leave the players to get on with the football on the pitch.'