Chelsea ready to pursue Cole to deadline day

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho said yesterday that Chelsea still wanted to sign Ashley Cole and that they would remain interested in the Arsenal left-back until the close of the summer transfer window.

"The deadline is 31 August but maybe before that we have to solve our life because we cannot wait forever," Mourinho said.

Two days earlier Chelsea had said they were prepared to put an end to negotiations. Before that, Mourinho and Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, had said they wanted the issue resolved by this weekend. The signs now are that an agreement regarding the 25-year-old's future is close.

Chelsea's offer is still significantly lower than Arsenal's valuation of around £25m. But despite the former saying that they would not go above an amount thought to be just over £16m, a compromise is likely to be reached.

The Premiership champions know there will be no other bidder for Cole, who was excluded from the official Arsenal team photograph on Thursday. They are also banking on Cole's forthcoming autobiography further souring his relations with his club.

Mourinho remains interested in Cole partly through necessity. It is thought he is not convinced by the alternatives available at other clubs, and with Wayne Bridge still agitating for a move the options in his own squad are limited.

"I'm looking first of all to what I have. I have Bridge, I have Paulo [Ferreira], I have [Lassana] Diarra if I needed. I have [Michael] Essien," he said. "Not pure left-backs but people who can do the job for us.

"Outside Chelsea, [there are] other countries, other championships, other players. We cannot arrive on 31 August and be without what we feel we need to close our squad."

He did not include the unsettled William Gallas - because he is not fit, he said.

Mourinho said he was reluctant to speak about Cole because he did not want to antagonise Wenger. "I think there is enough between me and him," he said, mindful of past disputes. "I want clean sheet, I think he wants clean sheet. We both made mistakes. I don't want to make mistakes any more.

"The only thing I can say about Ashley Cole is what is clear and obvious and everybody knows. Chelsea would like to have the player. We made an offer to Arsenal. Arsenal did not accept the offer. At this moment things have stopped because there is not an agreement. He is an Arsenal player."

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