It is no secret that left-back was a problem position for Liverpool during the 2013/14 season, with no less than six players filling the role on at least one occasion.
An early season injury to first-choice left-back Jose Enrique saw Aly Cissokho, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho all feature in the position at various stages throughout the season before Jon Flanagan appeared to make the position his own during the latter stages of the campaign.
It is no surprise that over the last few weeks the Reds have been linked with numerous left-backs as Brendan Rodgers looks to strengthen his side with Champions League football back at Anfield for the 2014/15 season.
Metro report that Southampton's Luke Shaw is a possible target but favours a switch to rivals Manchester United. Elsewhere, Simon Jones of Mail Online claims the Reds are in pursuit of Sevilla man Alberto Moreno.
The man linked with a summer move to Merseyside that may raise an eyebrow or two, however, is Chelsea's Ashley Cole. Daily Star's Duncan Wright claims that Rodgers is prepared to offer Cole a two-year deal to help turn the Reds into title winners.
Wealth of Experience
It is this writer's opinion that Cole—despite not always covering himself in glory off the pitch—would be the perfect solution to Rodgers' left-back conundrum.
The former Arsenal man would bring with him a wealth of experience, having featured in three World Cups and two European Championships for England, as well as boasting a medal haul that would make the majority of professionals green with envy.
Arguably England's greatest-ever left-back, Cole can boast a medal haul of three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, one League cup, one European Cup, one Europa League title and three Community Shields (via Mail Online).
The 107-cap England international is quite simply a winner, and winners are what Liverpool need to ensure that their wonderful 2013/14 season was not a one-off and catapult them from nearly men to champions.
Cole has made 385 Premier League appearances (via premierleague.com) since making his debut for Arsenal almost 15 years ago and has worked for some of the greatest managers to ever grace the game (Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, to name three).
Benefit from International Retirement
The defender's recent announcement that he is to retire from international football after failing to make Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad could also turn out to be a blessing in disguise should the Reds firm up their interest.
There would be no midweek international fixtures or summer tournaments to test Cole's 33-year-old legs, which could mean the no-nonsense full-back plays well into his late 30s.
If Liverpool's interest in Cole is concrete then the defender gave the audition of a lifetime during Chelsea's recent 2-0 victory over the Reds that effectively ended any hopes of a 19th league title.
He was magnificent, both in defence and attack. Liverpool's talented midfield featuring Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho as well as star striker Luis Suarez were stifled all afternoon by a resilient and resurgent Cole.
The Chelsea man has never really been popular with Liverpool fans, whether it is because of his behaviour off the pitch or simply down to the recent rivalry between the two sides.
However, should Cole sign and show the effort, willingness and commitment displayed throughout the last decade and a half, Kopites would soon be won over.
Cole In, Johnson Out?
Although not quite as pacey as he once was, Cole is still no slouch. The tough-tackling Londoner on his day is a match for any winger in the country, as he has shown during the final weeks of the Premier League season.
While Jon Flanagan has done extremely well at left-back in the absence of Spaniard Jose Enrique, right-back appears to be the youngster's preferred and natural position.
With the future of Glen Johnson said to be in doubt following a reported breakdown in contract talks, Flanagan could soon find himself switching flanks to not only replace the unhappy Johnson but to make way for Cole.
Competition for Signature
John Percy of the Telegraph reports that as many as eight clubs are chasing Cole's signature with the likes of Real Madrid and cash-rich Monaco willing to offer the defender mega bucks to leave the Premier League.
There is no doubt that if Rodgers wants Cole, then he will have to fight for him. The opportunity to sign England's most-capped full-back on a free transfer is not one that comes around every day, and the Reds boss should fight tooth and nail to ensure a deal materialises.
Money should not really be an issue. Guaranteed Champions League football at Anfield next season will have done the coffers no harm, and the history and tradition of the club is something that the defender will be more than familiar with.
Cole—as an opposition player—has experienced the most emphatic of European nights at Anfield during the titanic Liverpool vs. Chelsea battles of years gone by and may wish to sample it as a Liverpool hero rather than a Chelsea villain.
One thing is for sure—if a deal should materialise, then Liverpool and Rodgers are getting themselves a born winner, a man who is no angel off the pitch but is a warrior on it and a man who this writer feels is guaranteed to be an Anfield success story.
Should Liverpool sign Cole? He is far from Mr. Popular with Reds fans, but should that be put aside if it means the club are signing a proven player both domestically and internationally? As always, leave your comments below.