Joe Cole is expected to complete his free transfer from Liverpool today and could go straight into the West Ham team to play Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie.
A West Ham source has told The Evening Standard the move is “65 per cent done”, with the 31-year-old expected to undergo the second part of his medical today.
Cole, who began his career at Upton Park at the age of 11, made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old under Harry Redknapp and went on to make 126 senior League appearances for the club over five seasons, scoring 10 goals.
Speaking after Queens Park Rangers' shock 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge last night, Redknapp revealed: “Joe is the only player I’ve tried to get. I thought he was coming but West Ham came in and that was it.
“He is West Ham through and through so I understand. He is going back home so I wish him well.”
Cole moved to Chelsea for £6.9million in 2003 when West Ham were relegated and spent the next seven seasons at Chelsea. He scored 28 League goals in 184 games for the Stamford Bridge club and played under six different managers before becoming Roy Hodgson’s first signing as Liverpool manager in July 2010 on a reported weekly salary of £90,000.
The Islington-born star failed to cement a regular first-team berth at Liverpool and went on loan to French club Lille last season.
He returned to Merseyside during the summer following the appointment of Brendan Rodgers but has again failed to secure first-team football, although he did come on as a substitute against West Ham at Upton Park last month to score one of Liverpool’s goals in a 3-2 victory.
Liverpool, who yesterday signed Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea in a £12m deal, have been reported to be prepared to offer Cole a £3m pay-off to cut ties with the Anfield club after starting just nine Premier League games for them.
West Ham academy player Sebastian Lletget today tweeted: “Training with my man Joe Cole today, top player, looking forward to it.”
West Ham’s other priorities in the January transfer window are a striker and a left-back. The East London club have been linked with Nicolas Anelka, who has been playing in China, but manager Sam Allardyce has admitted that the Frenchman’s wage demands may preclude a deal.
Allardyce has also enquired about Aston Villa left-back Stephen Warnock and Blackburn’s Gael Givet.
Mark Noble, meanwhile, is looking forward to playing United in Saturday’s Cup clash.
He said: “It will be a great atmosphere and I’m sure it will be a great Cup tie, as they always are here at Upton Park.”