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Cole and Ballack exit Chelsea

Chelsea have confirmed the departures of out-of-contract midfield duo Joe Cole and Michael Ballack on free transfers.

Both players will leave Stamford Bridge when their contracts expire on July 1 and their availability will spark a transfer scramble among Premier League clubs.

England international Cole had been locked in negotiations with club officials throughout the recently completed season but the talks failed to reach an agreement.

The 29-year-old joined in 2003 from West Ham and went on to make 282 appearances for the Blues.

"It brings to an end Joe's seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge and we would like to thank him for his dedicated years of service and wish him well in his future career," read a club statement.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and former club West Ham have all been linked with moves for a player that assistant manager Ray Wilkins claimed that coach Carlo Ancelotti was desperate to retain earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, Germany captain Ballack will also leave on a free transfer next month.

Reports claimed the 33-year-old midfielder was holding out for a two-year contract but the club were only offering a 12-month extension.

"The midfielder has spent four years at Chelsea, and all at the club would like to place on record our thanks for his service and wish him luck for the future," read a statement on the club's official website.

Ballack, who will miss the World Cup through injury, played 168 times for the west London club after arriving on a free transfer from Bayern Munich.

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Article title: Cole and Ballack exit Chelsea

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