It came as a surprise that Chelsea were unwilling to extend Cole's contract this summer, despite his lack of appearances for the Blues under Jose Mourinho. Many still consider him to be one of the best left-back's in the world, and, when he returned to the Blues starting line up towards the close of last season, he put in top class performances worthy of any club.
England fans were shocked when he was left out of Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad for the World Cup - an omission seen to be even worse with hindsight - and it was with this snub that he announced his retirement from international football. Having amassed 107 caps, he is England's most capped full-back, and, despite a less than favourable reputation due to a various acts in his personal life, he was still respected enough to be voted England Player of the Year in 2010.
It is this reputation that has Roma closing in on his signing, and Italian football expert James Horncastle, who contributes to BT Sport, the Guardian and The Blizzard, believes that Cole is still good enough to make an impact at the top level - comparing this case to that of Brazilian full-back Maicon.
Roma’s bet on Maicon came off last summer. Suspect this one they’re making on Ashley Cole will too. Top full-backs not yet past it.— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) July 6, 2014
Maicon arrived in Rome following a less than stellar spell with Manchester City, where he played just nine times in one season - with only four starts. Following the departure of Roberto Mancini from the Etihad Stadium, it was announced that Maicon would soon be following, and the club allowed the Brazilian international to join Roma on a free transfer.
It was a risk for Roma to gamble on a player who had not covered himself in glory in England, although he impressed in the 28 games he played for i Giallorossi. He was head coach Rudi Garcia's most used right-back for the duration of the season, as a second place finish in Serie A brought Champions League football back to the Stadio Olimpico.
Whilst Maicon impressed having played so little the previous season, Cole still featured 17 times in the Premier League for the Blues, completing his required job to the highest standard. Whilst he is definitely in the tail-end of his career, and he occasionally showed lapses of concentration in games last season, he has been considered as one of the most defensively assured full-backs of the last 15 years - and his signing can do nothing but strengthen Garcia's men.