Newly appointed Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson needs to make a marquee signing to win over the Reds' dressing room and signal his intent on challenging for the Premier League.
The odds of such a deal occurring have shifted dramatically over the past few days as Hodgson is eager to begin discussions with former Chelsea winger Joe Cole. Weeks ago, it seemed that he was likely on his way to Arsenal, but their manager, Arsène Wenger, has moved on to other targets and is put off by Cole's wage demands.
Arsenal have always been reluctant to pay out high wages and refuse to break their wage structure. Cole doesn't exactly fit the profile of a Wenger signing, as he tends to take in players at a young age, develop them, and sell them off for a profit.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp remains interested, but admitted recently that he's nowhere near signing the 28-year-old. A Spurs move would make sense, as Cole is a Londoner and has a relationship with Redknapp going back to when he signed for West Ham as an 11-year-old. Manchester City was also a club thought to be in the running, but they've already signed David Silva and boast a strong group of wingers.
Hodgson has been looking to make the sort of signing that would put his "stamp" on the Liverpool team. He's spoken about bringing more English players to Anfield, and Cole could be part of that process. Former Liverpool attacking midfielder Yossi Benayoun just moved in the opposite direction to Stamford Bridge for £5.5m. It would be a smart piece of business by Hodgson to sign a player who many consider superior to Benayoun on a free transfer.
Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are eager to see what changes will be made by their new manager. Neither have completely confirmed that they are definitely staying at Anfield, but their teammate Jamie Carragher has been quoted saying that he expects both to stick around. Torres and Gerrard have shown their approval of Hodgson's appointment through the press, but each would be likely to commit themselves if an exciting signing is sealed quickly.
Liverpool have lacked genuine width during Rafael Benítez's time as manager. Adding a player like Cole would help the club address this weakness. Although Cole isn't as fleet-footed as he was in his younger days, he still possesses terrific pace and brilliant technical skill to get past defenders. He has the ability deliver quality crosses from either wing and is a versatile attacker who can be placed in a number of roles.
This move would make perfect sense for the Reds, as the club needs to improve quickly in a number of areas before their August 15th Premier League opener against Arsenal. Hodgson needs to keep ahold of transfer funds to address the lack of a quality left-back and needs to sign cover for the oft-injured Torres. Most Liverpool supporters have backed him, but an addition like Cole would get the more skeptical faction of Kopites behind their new manager.
The addition of Joe Cole makes sense on the football pitch and would appease both supporters and the group of players that Hodgson is trying to sell his vision to. It would be the perfect way to begin the Hodgson era at Anfield.