Only weeks after Florent Malouda
declared his willingness to stay and fight for his place at Chelsea
, it appears that he is close to a move to Brazilian side Santos
. The France international has scored 45 goals in 229 appearances for the Blues since signing from Lyon in 2007 for around £13 million and has one year left to run on his contract. The summer signings of Eden Hazard
and Marko Marin
have increased competition for places and Chelsea look ready to part with the 32-year-old.
Recently Malouda has been linked with Vasco da Gama but domestic rivals Santos have emerged as the new front-runners with the club's vice-president Odilio Rodrigues confirming that there have been informal talks with the player. He certainly was not an automatic choice of Roberto Di Matteo
towards the end of Chelsea’s season, being used only as an injury-time substitute during Chelsea’s FA Cup final win over Liverpool and a second half replacement for Ryan Bertrand
in the Champions League final win over Bayern Munich
Malouda’s casual goal in the 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley was only his second goal of the season for Chelsea and he did seem a prime candidate to leave the Bridge after such a poor season. He was at his best during the title winning campaign of 2009-10 when Chelsea scored a record 103 goals. He scored 12 in 2009-10 and 13 the following season but his opportunities declined rapidly under Villas-Boas and he was used almost exclusively as a substitute. Malouda was part of the France team in the European championships but he made little impression. With Di Matteo now confirmed in his position with a two-year contract, it seems the right time for the Frenchman to move on.
Chelsea’s player of the year, Juan Mata
will be joined by Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne
for the 2012-13 season and it is difficult to see where Malouda could possibly fit in. The Blues continue to be linked with a host of talented midfield and attacking players and it seems unlikely that their summer spending is over just yet. With Drogba
already on their way, it seems safe to assume that Malouda will soon follow. If he does leave, he will take with him a Champions League winners medal to go with a Premiership title and three FA Cup triumphs.