Ashley Cole has been offered the chance to join either Barcelona or AC Milan after leaving Chelsea on a free transfer, it is being reported.
The former England left-back, who announced his international retirement after being left out of Roy Hodgson’s squad for the World Cup, is free to negotiate a move to any club of his choosing after he saw his eight-year stay with Chelsea come to an end when the club decided not to renew his contract.
According to the Daily Mail, both Barcelona and AC Milan have approached Cole and put offers on the table for him to consider.
Barcelona do have the options of Spain number one Jordi Alba and Adriano in the left-back position, but it appears that recently-appointed manager Jose Enrique would like to strengthen his defence in an attempt to regain the Primera Division title from Atletico Madrid.
The 10 best free agents on the market this summer
The 10 best free agents on the market this summer
1/8 Guillermo Ochoa
The Mexican goalkeeper rose to fame thanks to his brilliant performance against Brazil in the World Cup. The 28-year-old, who left Ajaccio at the end of the season, has been linked with a move to the Premier League.
2/8 Rio Ferdinand
Both halves of Manchester United’s famous central defence for the past eight years are leaving this summer. Nemanja Vidic is off to Italy to play for Internazionale while Rio Ferdinand was told at the weekend that United would not be renewing his contract. Ferdinand said last week that if United did not offer him a new deal that he would be “open to offers” but joked that he “would not go below the Conference”. That is unlikely to be an issue as there should be no shortage of clubs looking for a defender of his experience. Queen’s Park Rangers, should they come up, are managed by Ferdinand’s old mentor Harry Redknapp, while even bigger teams like Arsenal could be tempted.
3/8 Diego Lugano
The Uruguay captain hit the headlines in Brazil for the wrong reasons as his complete denial that team-mate Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini when everyone else could see it. His contract with West Brom is up for renewal, but the 33-year-old is unlikely to remain in the Premier League.
4/8 Nicolas Anelka
Sacked by West Brom last season for his controversial 'Quenelle' gesture, Anelka has not yet confirmed whether he will sign for a new club - should anyone want him - or announce his retirement.
5/8 Frank Lampard
As with Terry and Cole, Lampard’s Chelsea deal expires at the end of the season and he is likely to follow Terry in signing a new deal at Stamford Bridge. Lampard is not the dynamic presence in midfield that he once was, and he started only 20 Premier League games this season. But as his inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad demonstrated, his experience and presence are invaluable and he is more than worth having around. That said, if he does not renew at Chelsea, there would surely be offers from abroad, not least from long-time suitors LA Galaxy.
6/8 Marouane Chamakh
The Moroccan striker has completed a one-year deal at Crystal Palace that could barely have gone much better. Since he was entrusted with a role as a withdrawn striker by Tony Pulis in December, he has been excellent, scoring five goals and helping to drag Palace out of the relegation zone and into safety. Chamakh will be discussing his future with the club soon but he said last week that agreeing a new deal at Palace was his “priority”, after building an excellent rapport with the fans and playing his best football since his arrival in England from France in 2010. If not, he would like to stay in the Premier League.
7/8 Samuel Eto'o
The striker did not cover himself in glory at the 2014 World Cup, as Cameroon's campaign was blighted by a money row over bonuses and poor performances in Brazil that saw them eliminated at the group stages. However, the Champions League winner will still have a number of clubs interested in his services, with Arsenal being linked in recent weeks.
8/8 Nicklas Bendtner
Despite a fairly successful season by his standards, Nicklas Bendtner is on his way out of Arsenal. The Dane has scored twice this year, in wins over Hull and Cardiff, but he fell behind Yaya Sanogo in the pecking order while not always conducting himself immaculately off the pitch. He turned down moves away from Arsenal last summer that would have meant pay cuts but this summer he must be hopeful of maximising his value as a free agent.
The club allowed Eric Abidal to leave on a free last season with the Frenchman returning to Monaco, and with the Catalan club conceding eight goals more than the champions, it is certainly an area of concern for Enrique.
Milan are another club who are adjusting to life after a managerial change after former striker Filippo Inzaghi was announced as the replacement to Clarence Seedorf, who was sacked after six months in charge of the Rossoneri.
The Italian side have Italy international Mattia De Sciglio as their regular left-back, but are rather short on cover should anything happen to the 21-year-old, and Cole would add valuable experience to both the Milan defence and the squad as a whole if he were to arrive in Milan.
Cole’s time at Chelsea ended with the 33-year-old featuring sparingly during Jose Mourinho’s first season back at Stamford Bridge, although his performances late in the season saw him included in the Champions League semi-final on merit.
However, the Chelsea hierarchy clearly felt that Cole no longer had a future with the club and allowed his contract to run down. Widespread reports have claimed Cole would like to remain in the Premier League, but that opportunities on the continent are available as well as moves to the MLS and the Middle East.
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