Florent Malouda will see out the final year of his contract with Chelsea training and playing with the club's under-21 development squad after failing to secure a move away from the club during the summer transfer window.
The France international revealed he had effectively been excluded from the first-team squad on his Twitter account on Wednesday, attaching a photograph of the entrance to Chelsea's academy building alongside the message: "This is where I'll train for my last season with the Blues!!" The move prompts parallels with the treatment of Nicolas Anelka and Alex last season, two senior players who were told to train with the reserves and then sold in mid-season while André Villas-Boas was manager.
Both players had submitted transfer requests in December and, having been moved to the academy building, were duly sold to Shanghai Shenhua and Paris St Germain respectively. Yet their exclusion served to unsettle other members of the squad and soured the mood in the dressing room prior to Villas-Boas's removal in March.
Chelsea have privately suggested Malouda's situation is slightly different in as much as he had indicated to the club a desire to leave over the summer, only for his wage demands – he is on £80,000 a week – to prove prohibitive for prospective new employers. The 32-year-old, a £13.5m signing from Lyon in 2007, had been close to rejoining the French club on a free transfer and had held talks with Santos in Brazil – his wife is Brazilian – only for the finances involved to scupper any potential deal.
The club's hierarchy have now argued that the player's clear desire to leave makes it inappropriate for him to be in and around the senior set-up, though Malouda has been granted a place in Chelsea's 25-man Premier League squad place, if only because the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar do not have to be registered as they are included on the under-21 list.
The Frenchman has been excluded from Didier Deschamps' national squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Finland and Belarus. Malouda, who has made 229 appearances for Chelsea scoring 45 goals, will not play any part in the defence of the Champions League at the group stage having been excluded from Roberto Di Matteo's 22-man senior party.
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image: © Ben Sutherland