He was once one of the first names of the Chelsea teamsheet along with John Terry, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech. Now, though, Cole's Blues career looks set to go out with a whimper.
The 33-year-old has achieved an enormous amount since moving to Stamford Bridge, winning Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League titles. With each one of them, Cole played a vital role, contributing both in defence and attack.
But this season, the left-back's form and, perhaps most of all, age have caught up with him, as Azpilicueta has stolen his place in the Chelsea team.
With the Spaniard's form in mind, there has been little protestation from the fans - and Opta statistics show exactly why:
|Player||Team||Pos||Effective Clearance / apps||Total Cross / apps||Big Chance Created / apps||Won Tackle / apps||Duel Won / apps|
Indeed, as far as defensive contributions go, Cole is trumped by almost every other defender in Mourinho's squad - even Ryan Bertrand, who has played just once for the Blues. In terms of effective clearances, the 33-year-old offers just half as many as his nearest competitor, while he has also won less duels in one-on-one situations than anyone else in the Chelsea back line.
Yet the one area in which Cole does excel - tackles won - is an unfortunate one for the full-back, as that's exactly where Azpilicueta excels, too, making more than half a tackle more per game than the England defender. From an attacking standpoint, meanwhile, Cole creates less chances than his rival for a first-team berth, while attempting far less crosses per game as well.
So the stats read particularly unluckily for the 33-year-old, with Cole being shown up by most others defensively but being edged out by Azpilicueta in the areas where he does do well.
What does it mean for Cole? Well, in the short-term, he stands little to no chance of starting ahead of Azpilicueta at left-back if Mourinho has a straightforward choice between the two. And, in the long-term, Chelsea look less and less likely to see any value in keeping Cole in west London, with his contract up at the end of the season.
It was a great journey while it lasted. But all things must come to an end.
Would you keep Cole at Chelsea beyond this season?