Cole's switch hangs in balance as Chelsea and Arsenal haggle

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The Independent Football

Ashley Cole's hopes of joining Chelsea are remain in the balance as the clock ticks down towards the end of the transfer window. There was little sign yesterday of an end to the drawn-out saga which has engulfed the Arsenal and England defender for more than a year.

Although Cole wants to join the champions, the Gunners know they do not have to sell unless the price is right. Chelsea are understood to be ready to pay more than £20m for Cole, a figure which still falls some way below Arsenal's valuation. Despite the apparent deadlock, with sources in both camps admitting yesterday that a deal was unlikely to be brokered, the move may yet be resurrected today, particularly if the Blues' defender William Gallas becomes an integral part of the package.

There is no doubt that the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, still wants Cole, despite the recent signing of versatile defender Khalid Boulahrouz and the improved form of Wayne Bridge.

Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, also admits he has planned for life without Cole. However, the Gunners' manager intimated he would have no qualms about bringing the defender back into the fold should he still be at the club tomorrow.