CHELSEA can kick-off pre-contract negotiation talks with David Alaba next month after Bayern Munich chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted the defender is leaving the club.
The Austrian superstar, 28, is out of contract at the Bundesliga champions at the end of the season after over a decade at the club.
Alaba and Bayern have been locked in contract talks since the summer.
The versatile star refused to put pen to paper on a new deal as he felt he was being undervalued.
Alaba currently earns around £150,000 per week at Bayern Munich – miles off the likes of Robert Lewandowski (£375,000) and Thomas Muller (£300,000).
The German giants offered Alaba a significant pay-increase – at around £200,000, according to BILD – but the Austrian still felt let down.
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But the defender refused and after trying 'everything' to convince him to stay, Rummenigge has revealed the player can now negotiate pre-contract terms with any club in January.
Rummenigge conceded: "Bayern did everything we could to try and reach an agreement.
"We had a lot of conversations, but we wanted answers from him by the end of October.
"This didn't happen and I don't know if we'll return to the negotiations.
"What I want to be clear about is that our offer showed exactly how much we value him.
"But he didn't accept it.
"'He's free to speak to whoever he wants from January 1."
Real Madrid and Barcelona are also believed to be keen on a move for Alaba.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have been linked with a cut-price January deal to fill the gap left by long-term injury worries Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
But Chelsea are believed to be leading the race as Frank Lampard aims to bolster his back-line.
Alaba is more than comfortable at left-back as well as centre-back and can even be deployed in midfield.
It's likely Lampard would see Alaba as the long-term replacement for veteran Thiago Silva alongside Kurt Zouma in the heart of defence.
Chelsea have raided the Bundesliga on a number of occasions in recent transfer windows.
As well as the 2020 signings of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, the Blues also brought in Christian Pulisic in 2019.
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