Chelsea defender Ashley Cole is set to agree a new one-year-contract extension that would make him the highest paid defender in world football at just under £200,000 a week.
Cole, 32, looked certain to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season along with Frank Lampard but club hierarchies have made a U-turn in their decision.
Initially, Chelsea were unwilling to give him a contract extension as owner Roman Abramovich looked to remove the old guards from the club once their contract expires. However, replacing him with a new defender of his caliber would cost in excess of £15 million while heir-apparent to Chelsea’s left back position Ryan Bertrand is not yet ready to replace him permanently.
Several European clubs were interested in getting Cole with Ligue 1 nouveau riche Paris Saint-Germain were looking to sign him on a pre-contract agreement while La Liga giants Real Madrid were also monitoring his situation.
Cole has been one of the consistent performers for both club and country for a long time and it doesn’t look like age is taking a toll on his performances just yet. Last week Chelsea recalled him on the negotiation table and as Cole always wanted to commit his future at the Bridge, he didn’t hesitate to put pen to papers on the dotted lines.
Rafael Benitez, the interim manager, couldn’t clothe his happiness in words better. He was quoted in the press:
“I am really pleased. The paperwork has to be done, but the agreement is there.”
The only fly in the ointment remains for the Spaniard is the contract situation of Lampard who produced yet another superb performance against Arsenal as Chelsea won 2-1 in the London derby on Sunday.
The 34-year-old is poised to leave the club as he was told to find another employer after the end of the season. AC Milan, Inter Milan, Lazio, PSG, LA Galaxy and few a Chinese clubs have shown interest in him, while Premier League leaders Manchester United could also pounce on the opportunity of signing him for free.