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By ESPN Staff

Real Madrid still interested in Ballack swoop

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack remains a transfer target for Real Madrid, according to coach Bernd Schuster.

The Bernabeu boss has admitted that he did attempt to lure the Germany captain away from London in the summer, but financial difficulties blocked the move.

But now Ballack has been left out of Chelsea's squad for the Champions League group stage, Schuster is prepared to try again in his bid to lure the 30-year-old with the guarantee of regular first-team football.

'Nobody wants to take a pay cut,' Schuster told Kicker magazine. 'Ballack has an excellent contract with Chelsea which would have absolutely demolished the wage policy at Real.

'No player here is in the same category (of earnings). The door is not closed for Michael. His qualities are clear and they will still be there in six months.'

But former Germany international Gunther Netzer, now a pundit for ARD television, has advised Ballack to knuckle down and prove he does still have a future at Chelsea.

Germany coach Joachim Low and general manager Oliver Bierhoff have both reacted with amazement at Ballack's exclusion from the Champions League squad, the latter suggesting 'this is no way to treat a Germany captain'.

But Netzer fears their involvement will make matters worse for Ballack.

'He is mature enough to be able to deal with this himself,' he added. 'He does not need Joachim Low and Oliver Bierhoff pleading his case for him.'