Daniel Sturridge nears Chelsea exit

Chelsea will look to offload Daniel Sturridge 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 the club 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 elsewhere.

The 23-year-old, 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.

He 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.