Manchester United could sign former Chelsea and Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole, it has emerged. Louis van Gaal wants the former England international on a short-term deal if the defender’s current employers, AS Roma, decide to sell him in January.
This is according to the Express, who cite reports in Italy as claiming that Roma boss Rudi Garcia is not convinced the 33-year-old possesses the required attributes to fit in with his high-intensity philosophy - and has already instructed the club to find a replacement.
Cole, who was heavily criticised for his abject first-half performance against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week, is understood to be keen on a return to the Premier League.
Cole would provide Shaw with competition
Van Gaal has identified Cole, one of the best left-backs of his generation, as a player who could provide United’s £27 million summer signing Luke Shaw with some additional competition.
This is despite the fact that United already have Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind in their squad. Both left-footed players, however, appear to have established themselves in the Red Devils’ team as a centre-back and holding midfielder, respectively.
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Shaw’s fitness levels were criticised by Van Gaal in pre-season, and the England full-back missed the opening weeks of the new campaign after picking up a hamstring injury. However, in recent weeks the 19-year-old has begun to show precisely why Manchester United paid Southampton so much money for his services in the summer.
Would Cole agree to Man Utd move?
Whether Cole would agree to join Manchester United is unclear. The 107-cap former England international spent eight successful years with Chelsea before leaving Stamford Bridge at the end of last season after losing his first-team place to Cesar Azpilicueta.
Cole still feels a great deal of loyalty towards his former employers, although he may consider following in the footsteps of his ex-teammate Frank Lampard, who completed a shock move to Manchester City earlier this season prior to his move to New York City FC.
Cole may tarnish his legacy in the eyes of the Chelsea faithful by agreeing to join the Red Devils, although the former Arsenal star is used to negative attention from supporters who once adored him.
What’s clear is that it would be a brave move on the part of both Cole and Manchester United - but a switch to Old Trafford would surely appeal if reports are true that Roma no longer want him.