Chelsea stalwart Cole may have played last game for club
Veteran fullback in tears during lap of appreciation after drawn Norwich game
Ashley Cole: Interest from abroad may not prevent the England international from opting for retirement. Photograph: PA
Ashley Cole fears he has played his last game for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with the England fullback still to receive a formal offer of a new contract from the club he has served for the last eight years.
The 33-year-old was in tears during the lap of appreciation after the goalless draw with Norwich on Sunday, his emotion betraying the reality that he may move on. Chelsea have indicated they will take their time before formalising any offer but the lack of a preliminary proposal has left the left back fearing the worst.
There will be interest from clubs home and abroad in securing his services, with Real Madrid – managed by Carlo Ancelotti and assisted by Paul Clement, who coached Cole at Chelsea – as well as Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco monitoring the situation, along with teams in Major League Soccer.
Walk away from game
Those clubs have had the opportunity to sign the defender on a pre-contract agreement since January, though the former Arsenal man’s priority had been to stay. He might yet consider retirement should no offer materialise, especially if he goes on to feature for England in a record fourth World Cup finals this summer.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho suggested that the club intend to take stock before determining the futures of Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry, who are also out of contract on June 30th. Lampard is expected to sign a one-year deal on reduced terms and may work towards taking a role among the coaching staff at Cobham. Terry is also expected to stay but after initial talks over a new deal his representatives have heard nothing back from Chelsea.
That has prompted some anxiety with the 33-year-old captain on tenterhooks. Terry used his programme notes for the Norwich game to demonstrate his appreciation for the support he has received from the fans and, while falling short of farewell, his words could have been construed as the precursor to departure.
“I want to say a big thank you for always showing me massive support on and off the field,” he wrote. “It was my dream when I arrived at 14 to go on and do what I’ve done.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho believes Chelsea’s incoming
“killer” striker will open the floodgates after another missed opportunity put paid to their Premier League title hopes.
Mourinho has long lamented his toiling strikers’ troubles in front of goal and indicated his desire to land a prolific goalscorer next term, with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa reportedly the number one target and the possibility of Fernando Torres returning to his former club in part-exchange.
“We have good players, but we don’t have the kind of striker able to, in a short space, to make an action, to score a goal, to open the gate . . . [we need to] add the attacking player with that killer instinct and the number of goals that push teams to different levels.”