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"[Liverpool] delivered on all of their targets for [the 2011 summer] transfer deadline day, shifting Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, David Ngog and Philipp Degen and re-signing Craig Bellamy," Andy Hunter at the Guardian wrote. "[Liverpool] have agreed to pay 60 percent of Cole's wages during his season at Lille."
One of Cole's reasons for failing at Liverpool was the incessant demands from fans when he went out.
According to him, it was more intense than playing for a London-based football club.
"You can go around London and you get left alone," Cole said, per Jim White at the Telegraph. "In Liverpool the football club is the main thing in city, so there's no escape. The people are great, don't get me wrong, lovely people, but they are at you all the time."
Then there was Roy Hodgson's disastrous tenure as Reds manager, Cole not living up to his wages and him wanting to pack it in.
So these are the events which led to a peculiar loan move to Lille.
For an Englishman to sign with a foreign club despite being good enough to play for a mid-tier or bottom-tier Premier League club was a shock.
"I think we're very blinkered in England, we know about Barcelona and Real Madrid and not much beyond," Cole said, per Jim White at the Telegraph. "It's opened my eyes a bit."
The move to Lille refreshed Cole's career, and he played 32 Ligue 1 games during the 2011-12 season.