Unhappiness over Michael Ballack's contribution to the Chelski cause this season has spread to the dressing-room with both Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele reportedly demanding that the German was demoted from the rank of Untouchable.
The Times claims that 'after last weekend's disappointing home draw with Fulham the striker Didier Drogba and midfielder Claude Makelele had to be prevented from confronting their manager Jose Mourinho over Ballack's lack of effectiveness.'
Leading players are said to have grown exasperated with the German's poor work-rate, his disinclination to aid the team's leaky defence and failure 'to mesh well with his new colleagues in attack.'
Although Ballack's form has been raised in team meetings, Mourinho has stubbornly refused to criticise his summer signing, whom he named as one of nine untouchables in December.
A section of the Stamford Bridge support heckled Ballack during the win over Newcastle in December, prompting an irate Mourinho to retort: "The fans don't make the team, I make the team.
"I don't select players because of the fans or comments in the press. I select players from my analysis of the team. I have analysis through scientific technology and, based on my vision and knowledge of the game, Ballack is still untouchable."
However, the Sunday Times cites Prozone figures which indicate that Ballack's contribution 'has been on par with the "benchmark" for a domestic central midfielder. He is nowhere near the elite Champions League level, which has been attained in England only by his teammate Frank Lampard, Manchester United's Paul Scholes and Gilberto Silva of Arsenal.'