Is Ashley Cole worth the money Chelsea are paying him?

Last week it was confirmed that Ashley Cole has signed a one year extension to his current contract with Chelsea, ending months of speculation that he would be following team-mate Frank Lampard out of the exit door at Stamford Bridge this summer.

Rumoured to have been offered £200,000 a week, were the Chelsea hierarchy right to pay this amount to keep their 32 year old left back?

Rarely out of the media spotlight, Ashley Cole’s off-field antics certainly divide opinion, but on the pitch there are seldom few doubters of his ability. Such is the admiration of the left back – in this country at least – there was a near public outcry recently when Real Madrid’s Marcelo was voted ahead of Cole as the world’s best left-back of 2012 in the Fifa Team of the Year, especially given Cole’s massive contribution to Chelsea’s Champions League success last season.

In November of 2012, strong rumours circulated that Cole’s former coach at Chelsea – Carlo Ancelotti – was keen to bring the England international to Paris Saint-Germain, a rumour that was strongly exacerbated by Cole’s mother after she wrote on Facebook “Well looks like his going somewhere better hear than the talk of man u. Not too far on the Euro star x”. Given the Parisian club’s seemingly limitless wealth at present – as they embark on a golden era backed by Qatari investment – talk of a move for Cole to the Parc de Princes certainly had credibility.

Roman Abramovic and his team may therefore have been provoked into offering Cole the lavish salary which he accepted last week, knowing that PSG had the financial clout to trump any offer to the player below the £200,000 agreed upon. PSG’s interest – whether concrete or not – put Cole in a no-lose situation and there can be little doubt that the player and his agent used this supposed interest from the French side as a bargaining tool during contract talks with the West London club.

Why were Chelsea afraid to entertain the prospect of a potential replacement for Cole? Fellow England international Leighton Baines would have been the obvious candidate, given that his performances for Everton in the past two seasons have lead many pundits to suggest that he should be chosen ahead of Cole in the England set-up. Baines’ services would have likely cost Chelsea an outlay of at least £15millon however, as is his importance to the Goodison Park side. It is doubtful that the likes of renowned left-backs Phillip Lahm, Marcelo and Jordi Alba could have been enticed to Stamford Bridge and given Chelsea’s poor record of developing youth players, it appears as if there were no viable alternatives to Cole for the London side.

Therefore it could be argued that Abramovic and his cohorts are justified in paying over the odds to fend off interest in their left back from the likes of PSG. Cole not only has exceptional technical ability and great knowledge of his position, but adds stability and experience to a team that constantly seems to be undergoing a facelift. Why Cole’s team-mate Frank Lampard has not been made a similar offer remains a mystery.