Rivals circle for Cole signature
The Premier League's biggest names are set to battle it out for Joe Cole's signature this summer after it was confirmed he will leave Chelsea. The Premier League's biggest names are set to battle it out for Joe Cole's signature this summer after it was confirmed the England midfielder will leave Chelsea. The 28-year-old's future had been the subject of increasing speculation and the Blues announced this morning his seven years at the club will come to an end this month after the two parties failed to agree a new deal. In a day of departures, it was revealed midfielder Michael Ballack and right-back Juliano Belletti are also leaving Stamford Bridge. Cole is currently in South Africa with the England squad and he remained tight-lipped about his future at a press conference today. He said: "I'm just focused on the World Cup at the moment, I'll leave that sort of thing to my agent. "My future will sort itself out. It's been going on a while. It's a story to be told another day." Cole has already been linked with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp admitted yesterday he is interested in the former West Ham man. Staying in London could well appeal to Cole, whose wage demands are believed to be a major reason for the breakdown in talks with Chelsea. Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti had repeatedly stressed his desire to hang on to the midfielder but as negotiations dragged on it became increasingly likely he would leave. The Blues' stance is also likely to have been influenced by Cole's failure to hold down a regular starting spot this season. The Londoner had been a key player in the rise of the club under owner Roman Abramovich but a serious knee injury suffered in January 2009 put him out for eight months and on his return he struggled to rediscover his best form. Cole arrived at Stamford Bridge in a £6.6million deal from West Ham in the summer of 2003 and helped the Blues win their first Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho in 2005 and 2006. Arguably Cole's best season for Chelsea came in 2007/08, when he picked up the club's Player of the Year award as they finished just behind Manchester United in the league and also lost the Champions League final to their rivals on penalties. The last of Cole's 40 goals in nearly 300 appearances came in the 2-1 win over Manchester United in April that all but sealed a third Premier League triumph, while he also picked up three FA Cup winners' medals and two League Cup titles.
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