Cole eyes move abroad but could hold Arsenal to ransom

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The Independent Football

Ashley Cole yesterday set the tone for his embittered exit from Arsenal by threatening to see out the remaining two years of his contract and leave on a Bosman free transfer if the club do not sell him to a foreign side.

Ashley Cole yesterday set the tone for his embittered exit from Arsenal by threatening to see out the remaining two years of his contract and leave on a Bosman free transfer if the club do not sell him to a foreign side.

In an interview with the News of the World, Cole blamed David Dein, the Arsenal vice-chairman, for "forcing him out" of the club and said that he wished he had been given "more support" from Arsène Wenger. With a return for Cole now a virtual impossibility, Arsenal will have to decide how they will dispose of an asset valued at around £20m but likely to command a lot less now it has been made public that he will have to go.

There was genuine interest from Real Madrid, but the Spanish side are now set to sign the right-back Sergio Ramos from Athletic Bilbao and they are not understood to consider Cole a priority. However, the confidence with which Cole took the Arsenal board to task yesterday would suggest that he knows that there is at least one exit route from Highbury already waiting for him.

Two days after the publication of the Premier League's verdict on the Chelsea tapping-up scandal, in which Peter Kenyon alleged that Cole had criticised Arsenal's lack of team spirit at their infamous meeting on 27 January, the player focused his attentions on Dein. Given that Cole was pictured wearing the same clothes that he attended Wednesday's inquiry in, it would appear that he spoke to the News of the World within hours of hearing about his £100,000 fine.

Cole said: "I think this is a broken bridge that might be impossible to mend. I blame David Dein for trying to force me out of the club I love. He didn't show me any respect and treated me like a little kid. I am now convinced a section of the Arsenal board don't want me.

"They've left me feeling there is no way back, that they don't want me to put on my beloved Arsenal shirt again. I feel betrayed, confused and badly let down."

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