As a quality, proven, experienced English international, it is unsurprising to hear that Joe Cole has no shortage of suitors. With his contract at Chelsea due to expire on June 30 and no new contract agreed between the player and club, the former West Ham man looks set to depart Stamford Bridge after seven years at the West London side. One of the most attractive ‘Bosman’ players in recent years, Cole is said to have attracted strong interest from several of Chelsea’s Premier League rivals, with Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all thought to be preparing bids for the midfielder. 29 later this year, Cole’s forthcoming transfer will surely represent the last substantial move of his career; as such, Cole will be considering his options very carefully.
Of the four aforementioned clubs, which one represents the best move for Joe Cole?
Old Trafford is currently the bookmakers’ favourite for Joe Cole’s next destination, and the decision to trade London for Manchester could prove to be a good move for the England international. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been a long-term admirer of the midfield schemer, having previously tried to lure Cole to Old Trafford as a 16-year-old. With United’s midfield notoriously bereft of creativity and nous, Cole’s flair and guile would be a welcome addition to the side.
As Cole’s failure to earn a new contract at Chelsea resulted from the refusal of the club to offer him a pay rise, Manchester United may be the only interested side realistically able to meet his £100,000 a week wage demands.
Strong rumours have emanated from the Daily Star (a source notoriously close to Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood) that Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal are set to land the 28-year-old, with Arsene Wenger fuelling such conjecture by stating that “Joe Cole is an interesting target, but do I have enough players in those positions? We shall see.”
As a supremely gifted technical footballer, Cole would fit in perfectly with Arsenal’s footballing ethos and style. However, with the likes of Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, Andrei Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky all on the books at the Emirates, it seems likely that Cole would not be guaranteed first-team status at Arsenal. A switch to the Emirates would allow Cole and his young family to remain in London, but would it represent a good career move for the player?
Should he decide to spurn a move to the Emirates, Tottenham Hotspur may be able to provide Joe Cole with another opportunity to remain in London. Having secured Champions League football, Spurs have sought to signal their future intent by attempting to lure the midfielder to White Hart Lane.
A move to Spurs would allow Cole the chance to work with former mentor Harry Redknapp, the man who handed him his senior debut at West Ham United. Indeed Redknapp has been full of praise for Cole of late, having stated in his column that Cole ‘[is] the best young player I ever worked with’, adding ‘if Joe was in the side we’d win – simple as that’.
However, the player’s wage demands could prove to be a stumbling block; Spurs’ hierarchy are unlikely to sanction any salary above their £70,000 a week wage ceiling, meaning that Cole would have to accept a £30,000 a week pay cut in order to reunite with his former manager.
Cash-strapped Liverpool are also in the hunt for Joe Cole, and it seems as though the midfielder would be welcomed with open arms at Anfield. With Yossi Benayoun’s expected exit set to further diminish Liverpool’s creative options, Cole would probably be assured of a first-team berth at Anfield.
However, at 28 years of age, Cole would be looking to perform at the highest level, and Liverpool’s failure to secure Champions League football for next season may act as a deterrent. There are also question marks over Liverpool’s ability to pay Cole’s wages.
Despite their well-documented woes, ex-Liverpool defender Alan Hansen believes that the club is still an attractive destination for top players (like Joe Cole), having stated that “Liverpool are still Liverpool – they’re still massive and they still have the greatest support in the world.” Will this be enough to take Joe Cole to Merseyside?
Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/zarifrasul