Ashley Cole has been a full back of noted quality for over a decade at Arsenal and Chelsea, his displays for England at various international tournaments have rarely been disappointing. In fact, Cole has been one of the most consistent members of England's so-called "Golden Generation" at domestic and international level. Also, there are not many full backs who know how to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in check along with many other exhilarating and tricksy forwards. In short, Ashley Cole has been one of the best full backs around for years but what should one make of a rumoured late bid for Ashley Cole?
The question for Liverpool or any club looking into the services of a player recently released by Chelsea is this: how good is a player who turns 34 in December in a position where athleticism and endurance is severely tested in a physically demanding league? Liverpool take an expansive (some would say defensively porous) approach to playing the game and it can leave defenders exposed with little support. However, Rodgers has repeatedly spoken about the need to reduce individual mistakes that one "can't coach" and Ashley Cole could provide a temporary solution to that. Would he also provide an attacking thrust from the left side physically and technically?
Last season was a new experience for Cole as his place was under threat at both Chelsea and England. A right back by trade, César Azpilicueta usurped Cole and was excellent at left back for José Mourinho but Azpilicueta would have been better than any left back at Liverpool or most Premier League clubs. Roy Hodgson went for Everton's Leighton Baines as his first-choice left back and Luke Shaw's claims for a World Cup spot were strengthened with each passing week as he continued to star for Southampton while Cole enjoyed riveting conversations on Chelsea's bench.
Ashley Cole has retired from international football and would only concentrate on league games but he would not accept anything less than a two-year deal, which is his right in his circumstances. He has never appeared to be less than focused and dedicated to playing the game to a high standard but recent links to AS Roma seem plausible and sensible for a player who might enjoy a slower, more tactical league that still offers excitement along with a new experience. The Italian capital club also offers Champions League football for a man accustomed to playing at the highest level. Perhaps a season of reduced minutes with no international action in the summer may leave him fresh for the upcoming season, possibly with renewed motivation to secure regular starts and excel to quell concerns surrounding his abilities.