Mourinho Ready to Use Luiz as Cover Instead
By Matt Law | Daily Telegraph | Published: 19th April 2014 08:45 AM |
Jose Mourinho is considering overlooking Ashley Cole for Chelsea's Champions League semi-final clash with Atletico Madrid, which would cast serious doubt on the left-back's future at Stamford Bridge.
Failure to play against Atletico would also place a big question mark against Cole's claim for a place in England's World Cup squad and hand an advantage to Southampton teenager Luke Shaw.
Chelsea manager Mourinho is without the suspended Branislav Ivanovic for Tuesday night's semi-final first leg in Madrid, which appeared to hand an opportunity to 33-year-old Cole. But rather than bringing Cole in at left-back and moving Cesar Azpilicueta to the right, Mourinho is looking at different options, including replacing Ivanovic with David Luiz and leaving Azpilicueta on the left.
Cole's contract expires at the end of the season and he has not started for Chelsea since Jan 26. Mourinho has insisted Cole will be offered an extension and assistant coach Steve Holland echoed that yesterday. But leaving him out against Atletico would indicate that the player's future is bleak.
Chelsea are considering pulling out of the race to sign Shaw, with Manchester United prepared to pay pounds 30 million for the 18-year-old and offer him first-team guarantees.
But the Blues are also interested in Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno and could give Patrick van Aanholt a greater chance next season. Cole was pictured at the Christmas party of his former club Arsenal in December, but Chelsea insist there has not been a falling-out between him and Mourinho over the incident.
Mourinho prefers his full-backs not to raid forwards too often and his defence-first philosophy clashes with Cole's tendency to get up the pitch. Cole has kept his counsel on his omission and has been praised by Azpilicueta for the support he has given him in moving to left-back. Privately, however, he fears Mourinho's mind cannot be changed.
If he decides his time is up at Chelsea, Cole will not be short of playing offers, and may also consider retirement. Having spurned various big-money moves in the past, Cole may not be attracted by the prospect of a new challenge at this stage of his career.
Chelsea have yet to offer him a new deal. The club have opened contract talks with captain John Terry, but negotiations are going slowly.
"I know that John wants to stay at Chelsea, and Chelsea want John to stay, so, hopefully, that situation can be concluded amicably over the next few weeks," said Holland, ahead of today's Premier League game at home to Sunderland. "It's the same situation with Frank Lampard and Cole. Full respect will be given for those players."
Cole faces a battle with Shaw to take the second left-back spot behind Leighton Baines in England's squad for Brazil.
Eden Hazard is still out with a calf injury, but may recover to play against Atletico.