5 Reasons Why Chelsea Should Hand Ashley Cole a New Deal
Should that prove the case, it will bring down the curtain on what has been a glorious eight years at Stamford Bridge, with Cole winning every domestic trophy possible, plus the Europa League and Champions League.
The Blues are rumored to be in the market for a left-back to replace Cole this summer, with the likes of The Mirror's Simon Mullock and Metro's Daniel Jones linking Jose Mourinho with a move for Southampton's Luke Shaw.
But should Chelsea be so quick to cast Cole aside?
Bleacher Report looks at five reasons why the Englishman should be offered a new deal at Stamford Bridge.
For much of the campaign, Ashley Cole has had to play second fiddle to Cesar Azpilicueta, with the Chelsea right-back being preferred on the left side of defence.
With the Blues' fixture congestion of late, however, Cole has started their last four matches and impressed on each occasion.
It shows the 33-year-old may not be at the same level that once saw him so revered by fans and coaches across the globe, but he still has enough to ensure Chelsea remain strong defensively.
Manchester United have adopted a similar policy with Ryan Giggs in recent times, maintaining his services to be deployed at various stages of the campaign to rest key players and also cover for injuries. Even at 40, the Welshman has been a big influence.
Besides that, injuries have impacted Cole's campaign and ensured it's been one to forget. But John Terry is another example of a player who, when fully fit, has shown his class this term after a poor 2012-13 by his standards.
His form in the past few weeks suggest Cole is more than capable of doing the same.
He Understands What It Means to Play for Chelsea
Jose Mourinho has stressed it all season—Chelsea are in transition.
A big part of how successful the Blues are going to be in the coming seasons will largely depend on how effective they are when no longer relying on the stars from yesteryear that have brought so much success.
Ashley Cole is part of that core group of players that includes Frank Lampard and John Terry, but that shouldn't mean he is disregarded altogether.
As much as bringing in new faces and finding a new structure is important, so too is having players at Chelsea who understand the club's values and ethics.
After eight years at Stamford Bridge, there are few in a similar position to Cole who can help pass that knowledge and tradition on to the other players.
He will turn 34 next season and with his age alone, Cole must accept he cannot be first choice in the way he once was.
Playing for a club is about so much more than what happens on a Saturday, though, and with players such as Cole around the dressing room, it will prove beneficial for Chelsea and their development.
If Chelsea allow Ashley Cole to leave this summer, they will be waving goodbye to a player with over 100 international caps and 15 years experience of playing top-flight football.
Cole has played in three Champions League finals, a Europa League final, while also representing England at every World Cup since 2002.
Given what Chelsea have at their disposal in his position, that's a lot of knowledge to be losing, especially if the Blues are able to win the battle for Southampton's Luke Shaw (refer to our introduction slide).
Shaw is just 18 years old and while an excellent prospect, is still a raw talent.
Chelsea have hopes and aspirations of competing in Champions League semi-finals and more every season, so it will be a big ask to throw the youngster in at the deep end with little or no experience of such occasions.
Having a player like Cole in the dressing room will not only help a player such as Shaw with his development, but his experience alone will prove essential.
Strength in Depth
Leading on from the issue of Ashley Cole's experience, outside of potentially signing Luke Shaw or another left-back to replace him this summer, it still doesn't remove the problem of Chelsea lacking numbers in a key area of the pitch.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been excellent at left-back this term, but the impression has always been the Spaniard is a temporary solution on the left side of Chelsea's rearguard.
He is a right-back after all.
Neither has done enough in their Chelsea careers to warrant a regular starting berth and if forced to pick between them and Cole, logic falls in the 33-year-old's favor.
Cole is the best left-back Chelsea have. Such is his age, he will need to be replaced permanently in the coming seasons but allowing him to leave now will be too soon.
He Loves the Club
Ashley Cole's tears on the Stamford Bridge pitch on Sunday said a lot about his character.
For all the negative headlines he has received in his career, for all the negative accusations about his character and motivation, that moment confirmed it's been on the contrary.
Cole is very clearly a player who cares about football and Chelsea. Why else would he be so emotional at the thought of it all coming to an end?
In an age where it's commonplace for players to declare their superficial love for a club, it seems Cole's emotions toward Chelsea are real.
That counts for a lot in the dressing room and with the fans.
For Cole's sake, let's hope it isn't unrequited.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes
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