Joe Cole capture all about dressing room presence for Villa
Aston Villa, 3/1 shots with Coral for Premier League relegation next season, have set up their second summer signing with ex-England midfielder Joe Cole to join them, subject to a medical.
The 32-year-old has reportedly agreed a two-year deal, following his release from West Ham, so at least he remains in claret and blue colours. Cole returned to the Hammers for a second spell in 2013, following stints at Liverpool and on loan at Ligue 1 outfit Lille.
Cole came through the West Ham academy, but is most famously remembered for a seven-year spell at Chelsea and scoring a sumptuous volley for England against Sweden at the 2006 World Cup.
Villa boss Paul Lambert will add a versatile and skilful player to the West Midlands outfit. Cole can play right across advanced midfield areas, but has struggled with injury problems, including a serious knee ligament rupture in an infamous FA Cup tie against Southend United in 2009.
It is these concerns over his fitness that have already seen some commentators question this proposed move. Like the arrival of Switzerland and former Arsenal centre back Philippe Senderos, the capture of Cole is a marked departure from Villa’s recent transfer policy.
Owner Randy Lerner has put the club up for sale, but initiated an approach of signing younger players following the exorbitant spending of the Martin O’Neill era. What Lambert seems to be doing, by bringing in Senderos and Cole, is adding experienced Premier League names to an otherwise youthful setup.
Fabian Delph, linked with Newcastle United who are seeking a replacement for January departure Yohan Cabaye, and Ashley Westwood are both still 24, so Cole, capped 56 times for the Three Lions, can influence these up-and-coming English midfielders.
Lambert made frequent tactical changes this term, with Villa operating as a 4-3-3, in a midfield diamond and, at times, with three at the back. Cole is flexible enough to fit into any of these formations.
The manager may see something of himself from the latter stages of his playing career at Celtic in Cole. Lambert was still picking up silverware in Scotland at an older age than his prospective new arrival, but Villa are not among the favourites for next term’s Capital One Cup at 50/1.
A Villa Park dressing room full of exuberance and young legs, though defensively naive and knowing prized asset Christian Benteke will miss the start of the season through injury, can be inspired and learn a lot from Cole.