Chelsea defender Ashley Cole will ‘seriously consider’ a free transfer move to Manchester United in the summer, according to reports.

ESPN understands that the England international left back is commanding interest from a number of clubs across Europe, with up to five teams keen on adding the 31-year-old at the end of the season.

The Red Devils are believed to be one of those clubs, although it’s unclear if Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are amongst the three teams who are reportedly willing to put a firm offer on the table for the player.

With only a one-year contract extension on offer at Stamford Bridge – club policy for players over the age of 30 – manager Roberto Di Matteo must start to come to terms with the possibility of losing the player at the end of the current campaign.

And, were Cole to join a Premier League title rival in the shape of Manchester United, it would be a bitter pill to swallow on the King’s Road. However, a source told ESPN that there now a realistic chance such a move could happen.

"Ashley is cool, relaxed about his future and his contract. He wants to stay at Chelsea, but there are no further plans for more talks,” the source told the website.

"Everyone at the club can see the sense of offering Ashley a longer contract as he is only just over 30, but until the owner relents there is little point in having more talks.

"As for Manchester United. Why not? Ashley hasn't made up his mind about anything, but there are offers from France, Spain and Italy, so he has a wide choice. You would need to ask him if he fancies going abroad or would stay in England. He won't be going to Russia though.

"There is nothing Ashley has said that would preclude going to Manchester United, but it's Chelsea where he wants to stay, so it’s really up to Roman Abramovich what happens next."

Having moved from Arsenal to Chelsea in the past, Cole isn’t afraid to court controversy in the transfer market, and the free transfer signing would represent a major coup for Ferguson if he were to pull it off next summer.

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