Shevchenko Set For Chelsea

MILAN, Italy -- AC Milan's Ukrainian striker Andrei Shevchenko will leave AC Milan this summer, opening the way up for a transfer to English champions Chelsea.

Soccer star Andriy Shevchenko, of Ukraine, arrives with his wife American model Kristen Pazik, at a party to celebrate Dolce & Gabbana

Shevchenko met with Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani on Friday, who offered the 29-year-old, who joined Milan from Dynamo Kiev in 1999, a contract extension to 2011.

But Shevchenko turned it down and Chelsea are now favourites to land him.

"I'm leaving for family reasons," said Shevchenko. "I want to thank the club for what they have done for me, there is no problem in terms of relationship and this isn't about money."

Galliani said the striker's decision was a "victory for the English language over the Italian one" in apparent reference to the fact that Shevchenko does not speak English, the language of his American model wife Kristin Pazik.

The couple, and their 18-month-old son, currently communicate in Italian.

"I did all that I could do to convince him to stay," Galliani admitted. "This is the most difficult separation since I have been at Milan. We will now start negotiations with Chelsea, but they won't be easy."

In the season that has just ended, Shevchenko scored 19 goals in 28 Serie A matches. He also netted nine goals in the Champions League.

The 2004 European Footballer of the Year lies second in AC Milan's all-time scoring table with 173 goals, behind Gunnar Nordahl on 223, and was for two consecutive seasons Serie A's top-scorer (2000, 2004).

Champions League winner in 2003, Shevchenko was also part of the AC Milan team that won the Italian league (2004), Italian Cup (2003) and the European Super Cup (2003).

Shevchenko will also spearhead Ukraine's bid for glory in what will be the former Soviet Republic's first ever World Cup finals (June 9 to July 9).

He goes into the World Cup having netted 28 times in 63 appearances for Ukraine, pooled in the group stages with Spain, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Source: AFP