Thus far this summer, the only certainty about Joe Cole’s future is that it doesn’t lie at Chelsea.
So far, we’ve seen the England playmaker linked with a host of clubs and even be ‘on the verge’ of a move to a few.
A stay in London? Fulham might feel a little left out, as Cole has been linked with North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, along with a shock return to old club West Ham.
A move to Manchester? It looked like a move to Manchester United was done and dusted at one point last month.
A move abroad? AC Milan and Inter Milan have been mooted as possible destinations, along with fellow Serie A rivals Juventus and Lazio. So have Valencia, who are in the market for a new playmaker after selling David Silva to Manchester City.
However, due to his reported wage demands, nothing has materialized to this point.
That could be about to change. According to the News of the World, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has met with Cole and his representatives and have offered a three-year deal worth £90k per week in the hopes of persuading the 28-year-old to come to Anfield.
With Cole’s preference to remain in London and the draw of a reunion with former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp, Tottenham are certainly still in the hunt, but Liverpool should feel confident about luring the lifetime Londoner.
Liverpool are one of the suitors that can offer Cole close to the kind of wages that he wants without putting a strain on their wage bill, provided he’s willing to come off his wish for six figures a week, which was apparently the issue with his potential move to Manchester United.
Liverpool also have it covered when it comes to ambition. Last season was certainly a down season, but they should be back in the hunt this season, and while Champions League football isn’t in the cards this season, it easily could be next season.
But most importantly, Liverpool offer up the chance for Cole to see more regular starts than he would at Arsenal, Tottenham, or Manchester United. After not being a regular starter throughout much of his seven seasons at Chelsea, you’d think that would weigh heavily into his decision.
There are a lot of question marks about who will create and score goals for Liverpool next seasons. The futures of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are still up in the air at the moment, and though I expect both to remain at Liverpool, that only alleviates part of the concern.
Liverpool parted with an experienced and reliable playmaker earlier this month when they sold Yossi Benayoun to Chelsea, and that instantly opens up a hole for a provider and occasional scorer. When you look at the current squad, it’s easy to see why Liverpool should, to borrow a term from another sport, put the full-court press on Cole.
Albert Riera? Likely to be sold soon, and even if he remains, hasn’t shown enough to warrant a regular starting place. Ryan Babel? The style is there, but the substance hasn’t been on a regular basis, for one reason or another. Alberto Aquilani? Greatly talented, greatly fragile.
Just like Liverpool needed to add someone like Milan Jovanovic to help take some of the scoring load off of Fernando Torres, there’s also the need for another creative presence to help take pressure off of Gerrard.
Gerrard was not at his best last season, barely cracking double figures in goals and failing to do so in assists, and Liverpool suffered for it. Throw in a defense disrupter like Cole, and Gerrard is all the freer to make things happen naturally. A freer, more relaxed Gerrard = bad for defenses, good for Liverpool.
With the season fast approaching, Cole’s list of options is dwindling, and it’d be in his best interests to make a decision within the next week or two in order to acclimate himself with his new teammates in enough time for the start of the season.
For Liverpool, it’s also quite simple. Being able to add not one, but two new key players without having to fork out money in transfer fees means that the balance of their transfer funds can be concentrated on other areas, like adding more depth up front and splashing some cash on a new starting left back, with Emiliano Insua set to leave for Fiorentina.
Perhaps Cole is still holding out for the right offer from one of the London clubs, or maybe another offer from Manchester United, but it clearly makes a lot of sense for both Cole and Liverpool to make this deal happen as soon as possible.