Carlton Cole snubs MLS for Celtic opportunity

Carlton Cole

The ex-West Ham United striker is training with the Scottish champions this week with a view to a permanent deal, having turned down the chance to move to the USA.

Former West Ham United striker Carlton Cole has revealed to STV that he turned down a move to MLS in favour of a potential deal with Celtic.

Cole is a free agent after leaving West Ham at the end of his contract in the summer, having scored 67 goals in 293 total appearances for the Premier League side between 2006 and 2015.

The ex-England international has since been searching for a new club and told STV that he had the option to make a move across the Atlantic before last week’s MLS roster deadline.

However, Celtic manager Ronny Deila instead convinced the 31-year-old forward to travel up to Glasgow to train with the Scottish champions this week with a view to a permanent deal.

The burly front man was at Celtic Park on Sunday to watch the team’s 6-0 victory over Dundee and was impressed with what he saw, telling the television channel: “It was really interesting. I thought Dundee didn’t come out and put up a good challenge but credit to the Celtic players. It was mind over matter because they had a mid-week game against Ajax. They came up trumps."

On snubbing a stateside switch after talks with Deila, Cole added: “He just asked me if I’d be open to coming up here so I said I’d come and have a look. I’ve never been to Scotland before so hopefully we can do a deal.

“I’m going to go and train and see how I like it and see how the boys are. I was almost going to MLS instead of coming here so hopefully I do like it here.”

 2014-15 Premier League PositionTeamGoalsTotal ShotsShooting AccuracyAssistsKey PassesPassing AccuracyHeaders WonHeader SuccessAppearancesMins Played
Carlton Cole FW West Ham 2 17 35% 0 8 58% 54 41.54% 23 907

Deila himself also commented on Cole’s arrival following Celtic’s comfortable win over Dundee, telling the BBC: “We will have talks with him and see him in training as well, this week, I think. We will see if it is something that will happen or not.

It is not [a trial]. He has been in London his whole life, so he has to see what he is coming to and then we will see if it is something that he likes and we like as well.

"I think he is a very good football player and he shown in the Premier League and also the Championship that he can score goals and he is different to what we have.

"He is a target man, very good in the air and strong and that is something that, if everything fits, could be good for us."

While Cole did not name the MLS club that was close to securing his signature, the likeliest option would arguably have been Orlando City SC, who are currently sitting outside the play-off spots in the Eastern Conference with just four regular-season games remaining.

The expansion side are just one point behind the sixth-placed Montreal Impact but the Canadian outfit have three games in hand over their Florida-based rivals and have been in impressive form of late thanks to the mid-season arrival of Didier Drogba.

Kaka-led Orlando, meanwhile, missed out on a summer deal for Javier Hernandez, leaving rookie striker Cyle Larin – the first pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft – as their only reliable goalscorer heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

The 20-year-old Canadian international has made an extremely positive impression in his first professional season, having equalled the league’s rookie scoring record with 11 goals in 23 games, but bringing in an experienced hitman like Cole to take the pressure off him at this crucial stage of the term would have been a wise move.

Instead, it looks like the former Chelsea product will begin the next chapter of his career in the Scottish Premiership if all goes to plan this week, although it remains to be seen how big a role he would have in the Celtic squad.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch