Yesterday, the national daily, Bild, went with the backpage headline, "Ballack must leave Chelsea", while former Bayern Munich star Stefan Effenberg also urged the midfielder to quit the Blues in January for the sake of his career and Germany's Euro2008 prospects.

Even Franz Beckenbauer, who last week said he couldn't see Ballack joining Real Madrid, is now changing his mind. He was quoted in AS today saying: "There is space for him in his favourite position and he would adapt perfectly to the Real Madrid system."