Transfer news: Arsene Wenger keen on bringing back Ashley Cole to Arsenal - reports

Left-back quit the Gunners in anger to join Chelsea in controversial circumstances in 2006

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The Independent Football

Could Ashley Cole be on the verge of an incredible return to Arsenal, eight years after leaving the club to join Chelsea in controversial circumstances?

The 33-year-old left-back is out of contract with Chelsea in the summer. and is also now out of favour at Stamford Bridge, with manager Jose Mourinho preferring the Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta in the position.

Cole enjoyed a glorious spell at Arsenal, the team he joined as a schoolboy, and went on to win five major honours with the club before he left in 2006 over wage demands over a new contract, when he was offered £55,000 instead of his desired £60,000 per week. He then moved to Chelsea for more money in a part exchange deal for William Gallas plus £5m.

"When I heard my agent repeat the figure of £55,000 [per week], I nearly swerved off the road," he famously recalled in his autobiography of the time he heard of Arsenal's new offer for him while he was driving his car. This led to him becoming a figure of hatred for the Gunners fans, who happily dubbed him "Cashley".

But Arsene Wenger is clearly happy to re-sign players from his unbeaten 'Invincibles' side of 2004, with the manager bringing back Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell and Thierry Henry for second spells, while Gilberto Silva and Robert Pires have trained with the current squad.

Cole also attended the Arsenal Christmas party back in December, the week before Chelsea's 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

While Wenger is currently blessed in the left-back department, with Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal and occasionally Thomas Vermaelen, he had previously responded when asked if he would ever move for Cole: "If I needed a left-back, yes," and Vermaelen has been heavily linked with an Emirates exit in the summer, with Napoli interested.

Should Cole leave Chelsea in the summer, however, a move to the MLS in America to see out his career is more of a possibility, with the chance of being offered a four-year contract.