The writing has been on the wall for some time for Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole and the club to part ways this offseason, a move that now looks inevitable after Monday's news.
According to The Sun's Rob Beasley (subscription required), Cole has decided to leave the club:
Not long after that report, Fox Sports News reported the following and quoted Cole speaking about his future at the club:
Former England defender Ashley Cole confirms he is "weighing up my options" for next season but admits he's unlikely to stay at Chelsea #EPL— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) May 19, 2014
Cole didn't necessarily validate the report of his departure from Chelsea, but his tweet did seem to indicate that the eight-year marriage between Cole and the Blues is soon to be over:
I am weighing up my options for playing next season with my agent and sadly it does not look like chelsea will be one of them. 💙💙💙💙— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 19, 2014
The apparent move shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, considering Cole was seen emotional and wiping tears from his eyes after playing in what figured to be his final home match with the Blues, per the Daily Mail's Matt Barlow.
If he happens to leave, the 33-year-old Cole's exit would mark the end of a star-studded career with the Blues, where he emerged as one of the world's best at his position.
In eight years with the club from 2006 to 2014, he appeared in 229 matches—scoring seven goals.
He continued that top form with the England national team, further proving his world-class ability with 107 career caps—the most by an English full-back in the nation's history—before retiring from international duty prior to this summer's World Cup after being informed by manager Roy Hodgson that he would not be in the squad.
Cole's arrival in Chelsea came on the heels of back-to-back Premier League championships in 2004-05 and 2005-06, but it didn't take long for the Blues—with Cole an integral part of the starting lineup—to re-emerge. They got back on top of the EPL in 2009-10, won four FA Cups in his time there along with one Champions League and one Europa League trophy.
Despite those moments, Cole was often overlooked in the starting lineup this season, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic preferred.
Throughout an esteemed career, Bleacher Report's Rik Sharma described how many will likely think of the Englishman:
In 30 years or so when people think of Ashley Cole all they'll remember is the supreme footballer. And that's the way it should be.— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) May 19, 2014
While his future at Chelsea may be close to being over, it's unlikely—given both Cole's aforementioned tweet and apparent interest from other teams—that he has played his last game of football.
Can 33-year-old Ashley Cole still play first-team football on a title contender?
Back in February, Cole was linked with a return move to Arsenal by The Independent's James Orr, which could prove to be an intriguing move considering his eight-year career with the Gunners. That ended with a move to Chelsea, which left a bad taste in Arsenal fans' mouths.
Given Cole's career accolades and two successful, long-tenured stints with clubs as highly regarded as Chelsea and Arsenal, he figures to be a solid veteran pickup for any formidable club looking for a short-term starting left-back.