Talks begin on Cole's future as Chelsea look for left-back

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The Independent Online

Arsenal said yesterday that informal talks had been held with Chelsea over the possible transfer of Ashley Cole.

"There have been certain discussions going on but there is not much more I can say at this stage," said the Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein. "As we speak he is our player and unless something changes he will remain our player."

Cole was involved in the infamous "tapping-up" affair in January last year, for which he and Chelsea were heavily fined by the Premier League. He signed a one-year extension to his Arsenal contract last July that tied him to the club until 2008. Chelsea are in the market for a left-back after selling Asier del Horno to Valencia.

Pascal Chimbonda has been promised he will not be frozen out at Wigan if his desired move does not materialise.

The French international handed in a transfer request at the end of last season, saying he wanted to move to a bigger club only 12 months after joining the Latics. But despite strong interest from Tottenham, Wigan are determined they will not sell for less than £6m, a fee that has not yet been matched.

Chimbonda, who was part of the France squad that reached the World Cup final in Germany, is due to return to training on Monday and his manager, Paul Jewell, said the defender would not be shunned.

"If Pascal comes back and trains properly, then when the season starts he will be picked on those merits the same as everyone else," Jewell said. "However, if he is not professional then he will spend a long, long time in the shadows."

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