With Chelsea allowing Ashley Cole to run his contract down last season, the experienced defender found himself in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose where his next challenge would take him
There was no shortage of interest shown, with the 33-year-old widely considered to be the finest left-back in world football when performing at the peak of his powers.
Arsenal and Chelsea were those to benefit from that period of his glittering career, with Cole collecting three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, one League Cup and a Champions League winners’ medal.
He is also part of a select group of nine players to have won over 100 caps for England, with his international career spanning some 13 years.
Why then does a player of such distinction find himself in the shadows at his current employers?
Taking the decision to leave English shores for Serie A side Roma was always going to be brave call and one which had the potential to backfire spectacularly.
Surely, though, a player of Cole’s quality would have no problem adapting to the demands of the Italian top-flight...would he?
His dream has quickly soured at Stadio Olimpico, with a side very much in title contention this season opting to use their high-profile summer signing just eight times in the league and three times in Europe.
He was overlooked completely for Wednesday’s crucial continental clash with Manchester City, with coach Rudi Garcia deeming him unworthy of a place in his matchday squad, never mind his starting XI.
It has to be said that Cole has done little to convince his boss that he is deserving of a regular role, with a disastrous showing against Bayern Munich in October still fresh in the memory and doing his cause few favours.
|Team||Match||Touches||Won Tackle||Total Clearance||Interception||Total Pass||Mins Played|
|Ashley Cole||Roma||Man City vs Roma||61||2||5||4||35||90|
|Ashley Cole||Roma||Munich vs Roma||30||2||1||0||16||45|
|Ashley Cole||Roma||Roma vs Munich||18||0||2||1||11||45|
What should Cole do next?
The January transfer window is fast approaching and it may be that he decides to push for a move elsewhere, just six months after committing to a two-year deal at Roma.
He would likely be welcomed back to the Premier League with open arms, but he may have to accept that his days of turning out at the very highest level are over.
Maybe that will lead him to look elsewhere, with there still exciting opportunities to be found in America and Australia – countries where he speaks the language and would once again be a ‘star’ name.
It is clear that he has to do something, with it pointless hanging around in Italy not playing when there are still plenty of sides that would be more than happy to offer him the competitive minutes he craves.