The Daily Mail today ran with the story that West Ham United midfielder, Joe Cole, would leave the London club at the end of the season. In the headline of their article they mention “interest” from his former club Lille. That one line has sparked media running with story across the channel, linking the 32-year-old with a return to France this summer.
Various news sources around France, mostly those that deal with transfer rumours, have linked Cole with a move back to France, but it seems there is absolutely nothing in the story and any move back to Lille would come as a huge shock.
Despite what the British main stream press would have you believe, Cole’s 12-month loan spell in France was not a huge success; by the end of his time in Lille he had been reduced to playing most games as a substitute.
At the time, coach Rudi Garcia was interested in making the move permanent, but mostly as a squad player and only if Cole would have taken a huge pay-cut.
Liverpool were paying Cole around £90,000-a-week at the time and Lille had agreed to pay one-third of the Englishman’s wages for the 12-month spell. At the same time, Eden Hazard was playing his last season in Lille and his wages were around the same as what the club were paying Cole.
Hazard finished the season with 20 goals and 16 assists, with Cole ending the league season with four goals and three assists with 20 starts and 12 appearances off the bench.
The former Chelsea play-maker made his debut away against Saint-Etienne and he started with a bang, beating three players before setting up Ludovic Obraniak for Lille’s third in a 3-1 victory. Unfortunately, that was one of his best moments. Goals against Lorient, Lyon, Nice and Ajaccio followed and he ended the season by setting up Eden Hazard for the first of his hat-trick, it was the last game either side would play for Lille.
Cole is held with great affection amongst the majority of the Lille fans, but this is mostly down to the fact that he played in the English Premier League and was a star for Chelsea in the Champions League. They appreciated the hard work he put in to every game, rather than the actual effect he had on their season.
Lille are likely going to be trying to negotiate their way through the Champions League qualifiers next season, and they will be looking to bring in players capable of influencing the game rather than a 32-year-old that was struggled to find games for Premier League strugglers West Ham.
It makes a nice story in the English press, but there is very little chance that Cole will be having a French renaissance next season.