Why Liverpool should snap up Chelsea’s exit-bound Ashley Cole
For many, Ashley Cole’s Twitter activity ranges from the mundane to the petulant but, much to the Chelsea man’s credit, Roy Hodgson’s decision to omit Cole from his 23-man World Cup squad was taken on the chin with both professionalism and feeling.
Alongside the veteran’s terminated England international career, Cole comes to juncture on the club front. His Chelsea contract due to expire this summer, a fair few potential destinations have been mentioned in the press and, reportedly among the more advanced in their interest, Liverpool have offered Cole a one-year contract.
A figure is yet have to have emerged in terms of what kind of damage such a move would deal Liverpool’s wage bill, though with Monaco also poised to make Cole an offer, worth £12m over two years according to the Express, it’s likely to be costly. Ultimately, there, of course, remains the possibility the board at Stamford Bridge will decide to retain the 33-year-old’s services for another year, at least.
However, Liverpool fans do have reason to be concerned by the prospect of bringing Cole to Anfield. For starters, including an experienced Premier League winner in the squad to reinforce the Reds’ back-line was seemingly the logic behind enlisting Kolo Toure, a move which wrought just as much havoc as stability. Additionally, Cole’s ageing legs are not likely to generate as much playing time as is warranted by what will likely be an appreciable pay-off.
Even were the latter point dispelled, and Cole played the majority of the season for Chelsea, as Steven Gerrard – of the same age – has done, it is Rodgers’ younger players who would suffer. Jon Flanagan represents one of the Ulsterman’s resounding achievements this term, a 21-year-old Liverpudlian who has demonstrated a higher level of steel, responsibility and composure than Jose Enrique, perhaps, has ever done in a Red shirt. Were Cole to oust him, unlikely as it may seem, so much of that good work and development may be undone.
All the above considered, though, the Chelsea man would be a terrific addition to the Rodgers’ squad.
Cole’s ability, intelligence and experience represent tremendous value as far as free transfers go and, at such an advanced age, doubts over his fitness, while understandable, miss the bigger picture. In monetary terms, what the Reds spend on Cole’s wages would partially be recouped by not having to stump up a transfer fee for a full-back from elsewhere, an area in Rodgers’ squad none doubt needs strengthening.
As for concerns over his age, Cole’s lack of favour and playing time have, for whatever reason, largely been exaggerated among the media. Though he may have only been included in Jose Mourinho’s line-up 15 teams on the domestic front this term, he’s also managed five starts in the Champions League bringing the overall figure to 20, just three shy of Flanagan’s appearance tally in the topflight.
What’s more, the standard and success of those performances have been high. Chelsea have conceded only nine goals during those 17 occasions on which the player in question has been fielded in the Premier League and have kept as many clean sheets. Mourinho’s style of play is unquestionably geared far more toward defensive success than Rodgers gung-ho approach, though it is remarkable that in 38 games Liverpool have managed to go without conceding only 10 times, just one more than Cole has managed in 17.
On an individual basis, the ex-Arsenal man is not solely the conservative influence his renowned defensive solidarity would typically indicate. His composure on the ball is far from deteriorated by a campaign of interruptions and his pass completion rate stands at 90% for the season. Further up-field, Cole has laid on 17 goalscoring opportunities for Chelsea teammates, of which two have been converted into goals – as many assists as Glen Johnson managed in 28 games.
As for the final concern, regarding the curtailing of younger squad members, few would expect Cole to soak up every minute of Premier League playing time available. Champions League football ensured, the Reds will actually be playing a far higher number of games, which means far more opportunity for youngsters to clock up minutes. On the contrary, in fact, behind the scenes the wealth of knowledge and experience Cole possesses would only benefit the likes of Jon Flanagan, Brad Smith and Andre Wisdom.
Finally, in addressing the only remain conern among the aforementioned, we come to the Kolo Toure comparison. As far as that goes, you’d be hard pushed to find two players more dissimilar in terms of mentality, playing style and general lovability.
Welcoming Ashley Cole on board for a year at Anfield might appear a temporary solution. Its effects, however, would be lasting.