The possibility of two top England stars making their way to the MLS this summer remains up in the air amid conflicting reports over the future of Chelsea duo Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
Both players are out of contract at Stamford Bridge and are assessing their options for next season. There is no shortage of interest in either, both in the Premier League and elsewhere, but there is still plenty of optimisim in the US that one or both will end up as the star arrival in MLS before the summer is out.
Focusing on left-back Cole to start with, it seems his time as a Chelsea player is now up. The 33-year-old recently tweeted his goodbyes and expressed his thanks to the Blues fans for their support during his eight years at the club. Despite returning to Jose Mourinho’s side for some key games towards the end of last season, Cole was largely second-choice at full-back in 2013-14, with Cesar Azpicueta cementing himself on the left. There is no doubting Cole’s fitness or ability to play on for at least a couple more years in the Premier League but it is looking increasingly likely that he will have to look away from Chelsea if he is to extend what has been an outstanding career.
He has options in England. Liverpool, Southampton, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Spurs and even old club Arsenal have all been mentioned as possible suitors but the truth is there are probably only a couple of clubs that could pay Cole’s wages. A move to Anfield would appeal to the player but it would go against the Reds’ policy of recruiting players under the age of 25, even if boss Brendan Rodgers is in need of an experienced left-back and worked with Cole when a backroom coach at Chelsea.
So it would seem the defender will head abroad, with a switch to an MLS side a distinct possibility. LA Galaxy could be his destination, although Cole is also believed to be interesting mega-rich French side Paris Saint-Germain, their Ligue 1 rivals Monaco and several middle-eastern clubs. A move to France would make sense at this stage in his career but an eventual switch to America may still be on the cards beyond 2015.
So to Lampard. The vastly-experienced midfielder, now 35, is a favourite of Mourinho’s at the Bridge and, while he has yet to be officially offered a new one-year extension to his Chelsea terms, that deal could be placed on the table after the World Cup. No decision on his future will be made until after Brazil as Lampard’s focus is understandably on the tournament with England as he hopes he can help Roy Hodgson’s side confound the odds this summer. But he, like Cole, has plenty of clubs queuing up to take him.
A move to recently-promoted QPR – where he could team up again with former West Ham boss Harry Redknapp – could develop as an option while, again, teams from France, Italy and even Spain are watching Lampard’s situation closely.
MLS fans will hope either or both choose to finish their careers in the ever-expanding and ambitious league but a conclusion to where they will be playing their football next season remains some way off. Don’t rule out a lucrative switch to North America just yet but a more realistic outcome could be seeing the duo make the MLS move a year or two down the line instead.