Chelsea will look to offload Daniel Sturridge in January as the striker privately accepts that his time in west London is drawing to a close.
And Stamford Bridge chiefs will start the bidding for the forward at £15million in January.
Sturridge has fallen out of favour at Chelsea since Roberto Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas as manager in March.
The former Manchester City man has not started a Premier League game for the European champions this season, though he has been troubled by a hamstring injury.
And Di Matteo has given the all-clear for Sturridge to be sold at the turn of the year. That news has been welcomed by the player, who knows his long-term future lies away from Stamford Bridge.
Sturridge, who was treated for meningitis over the summer, has been deliberating his future since the end of last season after only playing a bit-part role during Chelsea’s run to Champions League and FA Cup success.
The club’s £60m spending spree on the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses means competition in attacking areas is fierce and Sturridge — who has 20 months left on his current deal — is desperate to be playing regular first-team football.
The 23-year-old also wants to play as a central striker, something that does not look likely given that Fernando Torres is Di Matteo’s first-choice forward and Atletico Madrid goal-machine Radamel Falcao is a January target.
Sturridge is desperate to be part of England’s World Cup 2014 plans but knows he has to be playing regular Premier League football.
The Birmingham-born forward came close to leaving Stamford Bridge in August but a deadline-day switch to Liverpool fell through.
Anfield manager Brendan Rodgers was keen on a season-long loan deal but the player pulled out of the deal, insisting any move had to be permanent. Liverpool, who would give Sturridge a chance to play as a striker, remain keen but his £15m asking price is likely to be a stumbling block.
Tottenham boss Villas-Boas is also interested, having worked with Sturridge at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal and Manchester City are both admirers.
Sturridge hopes to be back in contention for a first-team spot for Chelsea’s weekend clash with Tottenham as he continues his recovery from injury. – Daily Mail