Wednesday, December 3 rd, 2014
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A Roman Renaissance for Ashley Cole?
The Englishman has taken a massive pay-cut to join the Giallorossi, this highlights his desire to keep playing at the top level. A move to the capital for the Chelsea legend is just the shot in the arm that both Cole and Roma need
by Richard Clarke
Ashley Cole has always been a player to divide opinion. The greatest English left-back of all-time to some and a scandal-ridden pantomime villain to others; but even those who doubt his character cannot refute his footballing ability and in particular his extensive medal collection. Roma have picked up the Englishman on a two-year deal as they sure up their squad for their first Champions League campaign in 4 years; will this coming season prove to be renaissance for Roma and their English left-back?

Cole began his career at Arsenal where he made a total of 228 appearances winning the League title on 2 occasions, following a breakdown in contract negotiations in 2006 a controversial move to London rivals Chelsea ensued. During his 8 years with the Blues Cole managed 338 appearances winning a coveted Champions League in the process. A seasoned competitor for the English National side Cole announced his retirement this season after being left out of Roy Hodgson’s final 23 to make the plane to Brazil. Following 14 success filled seasons in London Cole has chosen to continue his career at the top level with Roma. An interesting choice which carries some concerns for fans of the Italian game.

Many spectators worry that Cole’s infamous off the field antics will detrimentally effect the Englishman’s performance in an important season for Roma. The Chelsea legend was never far from tabloid gossip during his time in London but remarkably this never seemed to effect his on-field performance. The left-back has been one of Chelsea most stoic performers over the last decade as he seems to have developed a thick-skin shielding him from the intrusive tabloid Media’s criticisms; deserved or not. A fresh start in Rome is an stimulating prospect for Cole who could flourish while away from the invasive glare of the English Press.

The question of whether Cole is too old and past it is absurd. The left-footer is certainly past his peak but he is still an outstanding player which he proved last year with some excellent high profile performances against Galatasaray and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. Mourinho dropped Cole in the second leg against the Madrid side – to his detriment. England also missed his presence at World Cup as their new-look left flank was repeatedly exposed In Brazil; ironically so against Italy in particular. In recent years Serie A has been a league where older players thrive and enter a second eternal phase of their career. Just look at the remarkable successes of Andrea Pirlo, Francesco Totti and Luca Toni – last season each player proved that getting old is a non-entity in Italian football. At the age of 33 Cole is the youngster in the pack of ageing stars in Calcio. Last season also saw a number of younger former Premier League stars prosper in Italy with Carlos Tevez winning the title with Juventus and Gervinho putting in some dazzling displays as Roma finished 3rd. The left-back can take confidence from these successful transitions. Taking all this into consideration along with Cole’s wealth of footballing experience it is hard to see the Englishman fail in Rome.

One concern that Rudi Garcia may have with his latest acquisition is fitness. Cole did not play regularly under Mourinho last year and a long summer without football may have put some rust on the Englishman’s lofty left boot. A good pre-season will ease these fears but it may take Cole some time to gel with his new teammates and adjust to the Italian game. Under the assured tutelage of Garcia the former Chelsea man will surely have a successful passage into Calcio.

With a reported annual wage of around £4 million the signing of Cole carries a certain financial risk for the Roman club which is a worry to many fans. However the Giallorossi supporters must consider the fact that Cole has taken a massive pay-cut to join their side and what that says about their new signing. This highlights his passion for the game and desire to keep playing at the top level. This drive and ambition will be an invaluable asset to Roma s they look to dislodge Juve from the summit of Serie A next year. It will be up to Ashley to prove on the pitch that he is worth the investment off it. It is a challenge that the cultured left-back is more than up to.

Ashley Cole’s arrival is an overwhelming positive for Roma – but potentially a concern for Italian football. The evergreen nature of Serie A is certainly something to be celebrated as we get to see our idols turn out for clubs well beyond an age that would be acceptable in say England, but the inclination to prefer experience to youth is a double-edged sword as it has negative effect on the development of young Italian players. Ashley is not the only Premier League veteran to notice this trend with ex Man Utd captain Nemanja Vidic joining Inter this summer and his former teammate Patrice Evra set to join Juventus. Some could say that these former Premier league greats are treating Serie A as some sort of luxury football retirement home, an influx of Premier League oldies is the last thing the Italian National team needs following a underwhelming World Cup campaign. These concerns will not trouble Roma though who have managed to snap up a talented and experienced footballer. Where a revival of the heady days of Italian football still seems some way off - a Renaissance for Rome and Cole seems to be firmly on the horizon.

Saturday, July 12 th, 2014
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