Chelsea Transfer News: Ashley Cole Tweet Hints at Luke Shaw Deal

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Ashley Cole of Chelsea on the ball during the FA Cup Fourth Round between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on January 26, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Ashley Cole's sarcastic response to praise on Twitter suggests the player may be readying himself for a Stamford Bridge exit, perhaps to create room for Southampton's Luke Shaw.

As noted on the Chelsea full-back's official account, he doesn't expect to be playing often under Jose Mourinho:

Cole has just 16 appearances to his name in the Premier League and Champions League this season, per WhoScored.com.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Ashley Cole of Chelsea holds off Steven Davis of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Warren Li
Warren Little/Getty Images

He has been dropped in favour of Cesar Azpilicueta, who isn't a natural left-back, and looks set to spend the rest of the season struggling to regain a first-team spot that has been his since moving to Stamford Bridge in 2006.

While Cole's dig is a petty one, it hints at frustration and a future away from West London.

Martin Lipton of the Mirror believes Manchester United's potential interest in Shaw could spark Mourinho into a move for the Saints defender before the January transfer window closes, signalling a faster demise for Cole:

The Londoners had been planning to wait until the summer to try to entice Shaw away from St Mary's, but the champions' move will prompt them to signal their own interest amid a determination not to miss out on Shaw, who has been earmarked as their long-term replacement for Ashley Cole.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Ashley Cole of England in action during the international friendly match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on November 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

At 33 years old, Cole cannot afford to linger on the bench. He has seemingly fallen behind Leighton Baines for a starting spot in England's World Cup team, and without regular game time, he is unlikely to topple the Everton defender.

Even Shaw, who is 15 years younger, has racked up more Premier League appearances than the former Arsenal full-back this campaign.

Mourinho's decision to sell Juan Mata to United highlights a manager who will not be dictated to when it comes to dealing with his players, per the Red Devils' official website.

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Ashley Cole of Chelsea tackles Ahmed Elmohamady of Hull City during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Chelsea at KC Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Any other manager's judgement may have been questioned, much like many former Chelsea bosses would be criticised for dropping one of the squad's most experienced individuals.

Chelsea continue to compete across three competitions, often grinding out victories when playing far from their best. Cole will be needed at some point this season, especially as the important fixtures begin to pile up at the onset of February.

He may have become something of a bit-part player, someone who is entering his final stage with the club, but Cole's quality will be missed when his time at Chelsea comes to an end.