Report: Ashley Cole close to LA Galaxy move

Ashley Cole

The ex-Arsenal and Chelsea defender has been linked with a switch to Aston Villa in recent weeks, but it now looks like he could be heading to MLS this winter instead.

Ashley Cole is “close” to joining former England teammate Steven Gerrard at the LA Galaxy, according to the LA Times.

Cole, who turned 35 earlier this month, has been frozen out at current side Roma after refusing to cancel his contract in August and has not made a competitive appearance for the club since March.

Now likely to leave Italy in January, the former Arsenal and Chelsea defender was recently linked with a return to England to join Aston Villa as a replacement for the injured Jordan Amavi, but the latest reports suggest he could be heading to MLS instead.

The Galaxy have some salary cap room after selling key men Omar Gonzalez and Juninho to Mexican clubs last week, and the LA Times claims that Cole is set to fill one of the vacated roster spots.

A deal could reportedly be reached before Europe’s winter transfer window opens on Saturday, with head coach Bruce Arena even telling the newspaper that speculation about the move “is fairly accurate”.

Nevertheless, Cole is unlikely to receive a warm welcome from Galaxy fans or MLS supporters in general if he does end up at the StubHub Center in the near future thanks to some of his past comments about the league.

Following his move to Roma in the summer of 2014, the veteran left-back acknowledged that he had received several offers from the US after leaving Chelsea on a free transfer but told reporters that he was “not ready to just sit on a beach”.

Those comments saw him come in for criticism from a host of figures, including Liverpool legend and former New England Revolution head coach Steve Nicol, and while the polarising defender’s opinion could well have changed over the past 18 months, there is still a great deal of lingering resentment towards him across the Atlantic.

In addition, the Galaxy already have Robbie Rogers on their books – arguably the best left-back in MLS, and while Cole would bring a big name and glittering résumé to LA, his dramatic decline since leaving the Premier League for Roma suggests that he would not prove much of an upgrade.

Rogers would likely be pushed to right-back if the ex-Gunners ace does ultimately join the club, but with Gonzalez’s departure for Pachuca leaving a gaping hole in central defence, most would argue that the cap space would be better used on a like for like replacement.

Cole would presumably sign a non-Designated Player deal given that the Galaxy currently have all three spots filled by Gerrard, Giovani dos Santos and captain Robbie Keane, respectively, but they would still have to use a sizeable chunk of Targeted Allocation Money to be able to fit him on the roster.

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