Jon Flanagan has risen in prominence this season on the back of some whole-hearted displays in the left-back position for Liverpool.
A position that seemed problematic earlier in the campaign following injury to Jose Enrique and poor form of Aly Cissokho has become less of an issue due to the emergence of the 21-year-old.
The youngster’s rise is all the more spectacular when you consider that clubs in the Championship weren’t interested in his services last summer, as Reds manager Brendan Rodgers considered loan options for the defender in order to get him more playing time.
So how would the signing of a 33-year-old England star - one who would demand to be a starter - help the career of a promising talent?
Should Liverpool complete a deal for Ashley Cole on a free transfer when his contract with Chelsea runs out in the summer – as has been reported in the English press – then they would be adding considerable experience to a backline that has struggled for leadership at times this campaign. The move would help Flanagan learn from a player who has won everything in club football and would also mean a shift to his preferred right-back position.
The decline of Glen Johnson has been a source of frustration for many Liverpool fans this season. The England international defender, who is regarded as one of the best attacking full-backs in the league, has struggled on the defensive side of his game, and it would come as no surprise if he was allowed to leave in the summer.
That would allow Flanagan to continue his development on the right-hand side of the defence, which given his performances on the other flank, should help Liverpool push on.