Having long been considered as arguably the most accomplished and consistent left-back available to both club and country, the last difficult few months must have been slightly hard to stomach for Ashley Cole.
The England stalwart - who has earned 107 senior caps for his country - has been richly-successful since moving to Stamford Bridge from rivals Arsenal in a controversial swap deal in 2006, lifting the Premier League trophy on one further occasion, along with four FA Cups and the Champions League.
However, despite obviously and deservedly retaining a high-degree of popularity among Chelsea fans, Cole has been out of the starting lineup in recent months as Jose Mourinho has opted to deploy Spanish right-back Cesar Azpilicueta in his place.
Given Cole's continued absence, it is perhaps unsurprising that transfer speculation concerning the defender has begun to gather pace.
One particular rumour that attracted keen interest over recent days is the one suggesting that Premier League leaders Liverpool are ready to make a shock move for Cole during the summer.
While some may scoff at such speculation and deride it as pure fantasy, I personally believe that it could have some merit. What's more, is I also feel that Cole should make such a move.
Now, before the hoards of irritated and incredulous Chelsea supporters prepare to vent their fury at such a suggestion, let me be clear: I only think that he should do so in the event that Mourinho does indeed go on to sign a player he has been linked extensively with in recent months - £25m-rated Southampton starlet Luke Shaw.
While the recent Three Lions debutant appears to be in demand, his apparent status as a Chelsea fan must - you would think - give the Blues a considerable edge in any upcoming transfer battle.
If Shaw was indeed signed by Mourinho, surely no-one would blame Cole - who is out of contract in a matter of months, don't forget - for agreeing to call time on his eight-year stint at Chelsea.
Having already fallen behind Azpilicueta in the pecking order, the arrival of a player who has quickly forged a truly impressive reputation as arguably the most exciting young footballer in the Premier League this season would surely only further damage his chances of recapturing his position.
And while a move to Liverpool may certainly have been regarded as a notable step down in recent seasons, their quite extraordinary efforts during Brendan Rodgers' this year may just help to change alter those perceptions.
With a return to the Champions League now certainly imminent, Liverpool will surely need to make significant upgrades during the summer regardless of whether or not they can maintain their advantage at the top of the table.
Full-back would appear to be a particular area that requires attention, with Jose Enrique having missed most of the season with a long-standing knee injury and Valencia loanee Aly Cissokho struggled to impose himself at Anfield.
If Chelsea do not have plans to entice Shaw - or indeed any other left-back, for that matter - to Stamford Bridge this summer, then they should most definitely look to offer 33-year-old Cole an extension to his expiring deal.
However, if they are in the market for such an addition then it makes sense to allow Cole to move on. A switch to Liverpool could well be an adequate solution for all parties concerned.
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