Ashley Cole for Chelsea exit?

Updated: September 26, 2012

Chelsea may have to prepare for life without Ashley Cole as the full back has rejected the club’s offer of a one year contract extension. Cole will be a free agent next summer and could sign a pre contract agreement with another club in January if he can’t find common ground with Chelsea.

The European champions only offer short term contracts to players over thirty and that policy, and not a pay rise, is proving a major stumbling block in negotiations with Cole, 31, a club source told ESPN.

“The club have a policy that anyone who is over 30 years of age is offered a short-term new contract. Ashley is 31, but he is fit and still at the peak of his form, but so far all that has been offered is a one-year deal. Whether that included a pay rise is irrelevant as Ashley was hoping for more than one extra year,” the source said.

The rule contributed to the loss of Didier Drogba in the summer and the news will come as a blow to manager Roberto Mancini, who said after Cole scored the winner against Stoke that he was hopeful the defender would sign a new contract.

“I’m very optimistic that it will be dealt with before January. He has become a Chelsea legend, he is now Chelsea through and through. He’s been here many years and has contributed a lot to this club,” the manager told reporters.

Di Matteo’s optimism was founded on Cole’s publically stated desire to finish his career at Stamford Bridge but the Londoner’s disappointment at Chelsea’s failure to offer him a longer deal has put some of Europe’s top clubs on red alert.

Two former Chelsea managers could be the ones to benefit from the impasse. Both Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, who brought Cole to Chelsea, and Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint Germain would love to be reunited with the left back. Now that negotiations between Chelsea and Cole have reached an impasse, the defender is free to come to an arrangement with either club in January.

The Chelsea source added: “As it stands that leaves Ashley free to talk to clubs and to actually sign for a new club from January onwards, and that clearly is an option unless something changes from Chelsea’s end. There are no further negotiations planned as far as can be seen, but that now depends on Chelsea.”

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