Chelsea: Why Has Ashley Cole Signed a New One-Year Contract at Stamford Bridge?
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The England international appeared to be on his way out of the West London club earlier in the season when interim Blues boss Rafael Benitez claimed in November that Cole and Frank Lampard were likely to leave at the end of the current Premier League campaign, as reported by The Independent.
So why is the former Arsenal left-back staying at Stamford Bridge?
In terms of public relations with the Chelsea supporters, retaining Cole has been a coup. Benitez reaped a whirlwind of vitriol from many Stamford Bridge fans when he replaced Roberto Di Matteo. Those supporters had not forgotten his comments about their club while the Spaniard was in charge at Liverpool.
Benitez wanted Cole to stay with the club as 23-year-old understudy Ryan Bertrand is still developing. The interim boss viewed the experienced defender as an integral part of his team for the remainder of the season at least.
Cole is, arguably, on the wane as England's best left-back. 28-year-old Everton defender Leighton Baines is widely regarded as the player national manager Roy Hodgson should be turning to, as a poll in the Daily Telegraph in October reflects. Has Cole got a point to prove here in one last season with Chelsea?
Cole is also relatively injury-free. His absences from the game have been limited to one or two matches, while fellow experienced players across the game have struggled with longer-term problems.
In a far simpler sense, Cole just likes life at Chelsea. Most of us have come across a moment when the grass seems greener on the other side, but have held back from making the move when you consider what you are leaving behind. The same is true of Cole.
The full-back may have detractors among opposition supporters, most notably for his perceived arrogance, but he remains loved by Chelsea fans.
Cole has achieved more than he could even envisage since his move from Arsenal in 2006 and has become a constant in the success enjoyed by the club since then, culminating in the Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich in May.
At Chelsea, he remains a big fish in a shoal of aquatic giants and retains the respect of his teammates for his displays on the field. It would be a huge wrench to leave that behind for a player who decried the fact that Arsenal fans did not have a song for him in his autobiography My Defence, as ESPN reported in September 2006.
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