The England international fell foul of owner Roman Abramovich by refusing to lower his £115,000-a-week wage demands whilst negotiating an extension to his contract with the club, and is therefore now set to become a free-agent as soon as his current deal at Stamford Bridge expires next week.
Even before his exit was confirmed, many clubs were reported to have shown an interest in snapping up Cole – with Arsenal and Tottenham said to be courting the 28-year-old.
It appeared that Manchester United had also been working toward signing him, when Harry Redknapp told talkSPORT yesterday that he believed a deal had already been agreed to take Cole to Old Trafford – but ‘senior sources’ at the club have now rubbished the Spurs manager’s claims by stating that they have no intention of moving for the former West Ham midfielder (although there are no direct quotes to either confirm or deny the rumours).
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Should these reports turn out to be correct, it would seem to represent a massive oppurtunity missed on the part of Sir Alex Ferguson.
I, personally, felt pretty sure that Cole would sign for Manchester United at some point over the close season – as I thought United’s particular ‘wide-inside’ brand of direct, attacking football would have suited him down to the ground.
He would also have been brought into an occasionally flat midfield that were found collectively wanting at times over the past season (masked by Wayne Rooney‘s purple patch, so to speak), with the lack of creative sparkle from the supporting ranks becoming an increasingly pertinent issue as the campaign wore on.
Tottenham can, of course, offer the lure of Champions League football to any prospective transfer targets for the first time this summer – meaning that Harry Redknapp may now stand a good chance of reacquainting himself with the precocious talent he nurtured so intently at West Ham all those years ago.
With Cole previously stating that he would be reluctant to leave London in search of new employers, it would seem that Arsenal are also firmly in the frame – but would the famously stringent Arsene Wenger be willing to shatter the club’s fastidious wage structure in order to add some much-needed experience to his budding, but as-yet largely unproven, attacking options?
I’m not entirely sure he would, as Wenger generally sticks to his financial principles regardless of the effect (positive or otherwise) it may have on his team.
So, it would seem that the question we were all asking this time last month still remains; Just where will Joe Cole be playing his football next season?