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By ESPN Staff
May 26, 2006

Shevchenko will leave Milan - but at a price

AC Milan have accepted Andriy Shevchenko's transfer request but have warned Chelsea they must break the bank to land the Ukraine striker.

Shevchenko, 29, appeared alongside the Italian club's vice-president Adriano Galliani at their offices in Via Turati in downtown Milan at a hastily arranged press conference to announce his decision this afternoon.

Shevchenko said: 'I am leaving for family reasons - I want to thank the club for everything it's given to me.

'There's no problems regarding my relationship with anyone in the club or any financial problems.'

Galliani, in day-to-day control of the club owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, said: 'It's a victory of the English language over the Italian language.'

That was apparently a reference to Shevchenko's American wife who reportedly wants a move to England.

'I've tried to convince him to stay - even one minute prior to the press conference,' continued Galliani.

'This is certainly the most painful divorce since I have been at Milan and from now on we will begin negotiations with Chelsea and it will not be easy.'

Shevchenko's goals helped Milan stay in the race for the Scudetto in the recently-completed season - they ultimately finished second behind Juventus - but was reportedly at odds with his coach, Carlo Ancelotti, on several occasions.

Chelsea, who also signed Germany captain Michael Ballack earlier in May, have been linked with the striker ever since the acquisition of the club by Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Milan signed Shevchenko to a contract extension last year, which tied him to the Rossoneri until June 2009, after speculation Chelsea were about to make an approach.

Shevchenko, who will captain Ukraine at the World Cup this summer in Germany, turns 30 in September.

He joined Milan from Dynamo Kiev in 1999.

Shevchenko is the second top scorer in the history of AC Milan behind Gunnar Nordahl.

The Ukrainian has scored 173 goals in his seven years at the club and is a former winner of the Ballon d'Or.

'My wish is that the club can evaluate my transfer,' said Shevchenko. 'Of course I am saddened because I have seen the looks on the faces of the fans and because of the many messages I have received.

'My wife has nothing to do with this. We decided together for the best interests of our family.

'I don't speak English, my wife does not speak Ukrainian - the only language we have in common at the moment is Italian and the only way to be able to teach our children our love that we have for them is the English language.'

Shevchenko and his model wife Kristen Pazik have an 18-month old son called Jordan Andriy.