Ashley Cole on the go following likely Chelsea departure
Veteran left back Ashley Cole, 33, seems set to leave Chelsea this summer after an eight-year stint, in which he won the Premier League, four FA Cups and the Champions League, among other honours.
“I am weighing up my options for playing next season with my agent,” he said. “Sadly, it does not look like Chelsea will be one of them.
“Thank you Chelsea for making my eight years a pleasure. We’ve been through a lot, good and bad.”
Appearances for his the Blues were limited last season by the return of Jose Mourinho; who has increasingly preferred to play right footed Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta in the position Cole dominated for so long.
Leaving Stamford Bridge is not the end for Cole’s career, however, as clubs have been lining up to sign the defender on a free transfer when his contract expires this summer.
Monaco are the club most persistently linked (at a price of 11/10) with Cole, and they could certainly benefit from his ability and experience.
Despite the significant investment promised by Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, and the £50m plus purchase of Radamel Falcao, the squad is still somewhat patchy defensively and the addition of a world class (if ageing) left back could do wonders.
Another potential French destination would be PSG (16/1), again a nouveau riche club whose investment strategy has been somewhat forward heavy.
Defensively, PSG have been reliant on Thiago Silva but the arrival of Cole, along with a rumoured move of Barcelona’s Dani Alves, could give the French champions an exciting boost.
Finally putting together a world class back four could put PSG on the upward trajectory they have long-sought, and finally translate the talent of their forwards (Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi) into genuine competition at the top of European football.
More likely would be a move to the MLS (3/1), following in the footsteps of David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and, more recently, Jermain Defoe.
Although the MLS has a strict salary cap, which sees most players earn significantly less than their European counterparts, Cole would be signed as a ‘designated player’, removing him from the cap system and allowing his, likely high, salary expectations to be met.
Of course Cole, who has played in England for his entire career, might choose to remain in the Premier League. A return to Arsenal (33/1) seems unlikely, given the ire of fans who nicknamed him ‘Cashley’ after his 2006 departure.
Another possibility would be a switch to cash-rich league champions Manchester City (5/1) or runners-up Liverpool (3/1), both of whom rose to the top of the table on the back of overwhelming offensive ability ahead of a solid defence. At either team, Cole’s level head and experience could prove invaluable.
A final English option would be Manchester United (14/1), who could be without out-of-contract Patrice Evra next term. Although Southampton’s Luke Shaw has been lined up as a long term replacement for the Frenchman, Cole could provide experience and cover for the 18-year-old, as he becomes accustomed to his new surroundings.