Say what you want about Ashley Cole; he has probably heard it all before. One of the many footballers of the past 15 years to transcend the barrier of celebrity personality and footballer with ill effect. His private life and off the pitch actions have often caused more headlines then his achievements on the pitch.
Why is a mesmerising issue? Sure he has done stupid things off the pitch and his ‘greed’ is well popularised but considering he is the best left-back of our generation you must also give him credit, and the payment to subsidise his talent that is reflective of the current market.
Now however it seems he could be coming to the end of his Stamford Bridge career as contract talks with the clubs hierarchy stall. Whether the issue is wages or contract length Chelsea and Ashley Cole appear to be at a moot point currently and will reportedly re-visit the situation in due course.
He turns 32 this December so you can understand The Blue’s trepidation at offering him a brand spanking new contract with all the trimmings, despite his 98 caps for England and claim to being the best left-back in the world for the past five years at least.
So who could realistically capitalise on the situation and bring in Ashley Cole at the end of the season?
This would likely depend on whether Jose Mourinho remains in the Spanish capital. He pried Cole away from former side Arsenal for Chelsea and together they won the League and FA Cup in 2007. Fabio Coentrao has not endeared himself to the Bernabeu faithful and Cole could provide competition for Brazilian Marcelo – following in the footsteps of fellow English Madrid ex’s David Beckham, Michael Owen, Jonathan Woodgate and Steve McManaman.
The Rossoneri need a marquee signing to quell fan disquiet and a financial investment from Qatar seems imminent that could give them the cash to give Cole a chance at the club. They value experience at the San Siro as the prolonged careers of Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini prove. Whether Cole would want to play in Serie A is another issue.
Another of his former gaffers could employ him in France as Carlo Ancelotti continues to build a sterling outfit in the French capital. Money does not seem to be an issue at Les Parisiens so they could offer Cole all the sheets in the world to ply his trade at the Parc des Princes.
Holger Badstuber has emerged to be a much more talented centre-half then left-back while David Alaba is a prospect for the future. Captain Philipp Lahm is equally adept at right-back and Bayern Munich could certainly afford him. Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 may also fancy a punt.
We could forget this and Ashley could just stay at Chelsea for another two or so years. He is more than capable to do so and would provide an excellent footballing role model for the successor to his throne Ryan Bertrand.
Where do you think Ashley Cole will be playing next season?
image: © Ben Sutherland