Plenty of debate has revolved around Ashley Cole over the past few months, from Chelsea’s choice not to renew his expiring contract to his omission from Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.
Whilst the discussion surrounding the 33-year-old was previously centred in his native England, however, Cole’s Bosman move to Roma has now shifted it abroad.
At first glance, the Giallorossi’s signing of Cole is highly reminiscent of last summer’s capture of Maicon - a no-cost veteran full-back with a winning pedigree entering the twilight of his career.
There were plenty of questions asked in the Italian capital when Maicon was brought in. Did he have anything left in the tank? Was he recruited more for his past reputation than current ability?
The same enquiries have been made by Romanisti concerning Cole. And by all indications, the camp remains split over the prudence of taking on the former Chelsea left-back.
A poll from Italian website Tutto Mercato Web shows that 38.5% of voters tagged the Cole signing as ‘excellent, experience and reliability’, a sizeable enthusiastic bloc.
A further 27.3% of respondents called Cole a ‘good’ pickup, but indicated that he’ll require cover and can’t carry the load at left-back on his own.
And lastly, 34.2% of those polled have been left wholly unimpressed. This group inauspiciously titled the Englishman as ‘insufficient, player on Sunset Boulevard’ - for lack of a kinder way to put it, washed up.
The positive for Cole is that he needs to look no further than Maicon for inspiration.
The Brazilian’s career looked to have stalled out at Manchester City with a disappointing 2012-13 campaign. But he enjoyed a renaissance last season at Roma, playing his way back into the Selecao and even usurping Dani Alves as the starting right-back at the World Cup.
Cole made just 17 appearances for Chelsea last term, but conversely did quite well when called upon. There’s little to suggest he can’t succeed at the Stadio Olimpico just as Maicon has.
Underneath it all, fans’ reaction to his signing will mean little when the time comes to pull on a Roma shirt at the start of the season.
Cole will ultimately be judged by how he performs - just like a now-beloved Maicon - and the Giallorossi hierarchy clearly have confidence he’s still up to doing so at a high level.