Arjen Robben is set to complete a move to Real Madrid after the Spanish champions agreed a fee with Chelsea.
The fee believed to be close to €36m ends a year long pursuit by Real president Ramon Calderon.
Robben was one of three electoral pledges made by Calderón when he was elected Madrid president in the summer of 2006, alongside Cesc Fábregas and Milan’s Brazilian playmaker Kaka.
The 23-year-old Dutch winger had made little secret of his desire to move to the Spanish capital and had refused to sign a new deal with Chelsea.
Chelsea announced that the transfer had been settled subject to the Dutchman agreeing personal terms on a five-year deal and passing a medical.
Chelsea skipper John Terry said losing Robben was a blow.
“We are very disappointed to lose him,” said the Chelsea captain. “He’s very young and a world class player.
“He’s been a great friend to not only me but all the other Chelsea players. We are sorry to see him go but on behalf of myself and everyone else at Chelsea we wish him well.”
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said the sale represented good business by the club.
“From a fan’s perspective I am a little bit unhappy about that because Robben is a very good player and he’s done some good things for Chelsea Football Club,” Buck told LBC News 1152.
“But for reasons that you will have to ask him, he wanted to move on.
“We really didn’t want that to happen but in football sometimes you have to do certain things and I think Peter (Kenyon) struck a very good deal with Real Madrid.
“We’ve pretty much doubled our money, which is good football business.
“So we’re sorry to see him go, we’ve made a good deal and we wish him well.”
Robben has been joined at Real by Manchester United’s left-back Gabriel Heinze, who completed his move last night, as well as other new signings, Christoph Metzelder, Pepe, Jerzy Dudek, Royston Drenthe and Javier Saviola.