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Tuesday July 8 2014
Cole a concern for Calcio?

Ashley Cole’s arrival in Rome is the latest in a wave of older Premier League players heading to Italy. Sam Lewis expresses his concern.

Although the ink is still drying and the Press conference is yet to take place, it will be rather inevitable to read and hear the first words new Roma signing Ashley Cole will say upon his announcement, barring some catastrophic PR disaster.

‘Excited to be part of this project’, is a phrase that will nestle comfortably among new player hyperbole that Cole will probably include, alongside hastily researched mutterings about Roman history and the intention to ‘win trophies’, and how likely that proposition is for the former England full-back at his new home.

However, the specifics of that likelihood are rather immaterial. For all the shiny grins had between Lupi officials and the former Chelsea defender, it’s probably not the decent odds on Roma winning the Scudetto in 2015 that drew the man once nicknamed ‘Cashley’ to the Italian capital. It might have something to do with the reported €5m a year he stands to earn now he’s there.

It’s hard to criticise Cole - it’s a lot of money to be offered - especially if you’re unemployed like the Englishman was. It is however, a rather large sum for a club in a widely cash strapped league to offer a 33-year-old coming off his least impressive season in over a decade.

Cole’s arrival is the newest in a recent trend, joining former Manchester United captain and 32-year-old Nemanja Vidic in the transformation from free agent in England to well-paid in Italy. Patrice Evra, though still under contract at Old Trafford, is expected to follow to Juventus.

This aspect aside, though, Ashley Cole does fill a gap for Rudi Garcia and his Roma side, offering experience and a much more reassuring presence than the revolving door of full-backs that have paraded down the left-flank for the Giallorossi since John Arne Riise left the club in 2011. Neither one of Dodo or Federico Balzaretti have ability that even remotely resembles Cole on form, who was arguably the world’s best in his position as recently as 2012.

That said, the move represents a somewhat concerning transfer strategy on the whole, when the context of the League is taken into account. Provided Evra begins next season in Turin - as is largely expected - three of Italy’ biggest sides will have acquired three players who were cast aside by Premier League clubs.

Be it injury, poor form, money or pragmatism on the part of these three players’ English employers, the fact remains that they have ended long Premier League careers, ones that perhaps could’ve been extended in different circumstances. As a result of those snubs, Serie A is picking up the pieces.

Bar the occasional exception in recent years like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gonzalo Higuain, Serie A is now rarely the place where stars spend the best years of their athletic lives. It appears that there is a growing pattern that the peninsula is the place for the still-proud veteran, a respectable medium between the manic life of a Premier League footballer and the well-rewarded but incredibly dull professional existence in places like China, Australia, America or the United Arab Emirates.

It was once the other way round, the likes of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Gianluca Vialli and Ruud Gullit enjoying English holidays after a testing career in Calcio. The shift is notable, and concerning.

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Have your say...
Don't get the point honestly. Couldn't we've said something similar about Maicon coming to Roma? Wasn't he supposedly "Cast away" from the epl? Now he's starting over Alves in Brazil who is a "Wanted" commodity in the EPL. Are we trying to say that Cole was only desired by Roma? Or that Manu weren't keeping Evra if Juve didn't buy him? Also, it's not a long contract that ties them up to a finished player, more like a short contract that btw is way below what Cole used to get paid (13m a year).
on the 8th July, 2014 at 1:40pm
Sam Lewis

You've probaby spent a great deal of time writing this state the obvious article. Presumably you were never familiar with a lot of people referring to Serie A as a retirement home for stars. That occured when Ronaldhino arrived. Serie A is slow, boring and lacks achievement. No CL winners since 2007 (forget inter, JoMo won that). Juve carry the flag as the only side at least trying. Napoli are probably second. Juve will win another dull league and be dominated in Europe. Serie A Sux
on the 8th July, 2014 at 1:33pm
I heard the wage was 2.5m a year, which made me accept this as a decent transfer for Roma and a sign that Cole was in Italy for the challenge and not the money. However, if it was 5m, then I'd leave him in the EPL. I also think Cole played well last season.

Vidic is another I didn't have a problem with as his attitude has always been good. As for Evra, Juve really need to be doing much better than him. Coentrao, with 1 year left on his deal, or De Sciglio or Darmian would be perfect for them.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 1:12pm
The bigger picture must always be taken into account. It's old news that Serie A is no longer the superior European league it was throughout the 90s and early noughties, but when it comes to modern footballers peaking, they follow the money. MONEY MONEY MONEY
on the 8th July, 2014 at 12:59pm
The shift is nothing new. Serie A is no longer a top league and as long as the other teams dont get their minds out of the 90's and remake their outdated business model, it will continue.

As for Ashley Cole. He took a £160,000 a week pay cut. He had rumored offers from Arsenal and Liverpool. He is no spring chicken but i don't care what team you are. Cant pass up that steal.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 12:53pm
Having said that I'd have much preferred for Milan to have been looking to sign the likes of Cole, Evra and Vidic rather than wasting time pursuing yet more pointless attackers. Roma's challenge last season was built on a solid defence and they've still looked to re-enforce that aspect of the team. Meanwhile Milan have wasted weeks playing musical chairs with attackers and hopelessly pursuing players they patently cannot afford like Iturbe. I'd prefer to be Roma fan right now.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 12:51pm
Until they solve the stadium issues, Italy will always be a retirement ground. Period.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 12:48pm
Good article. I've mixed feelings about this move. I hate the thought of former EPL players whiling away their Autumn years in Serie A. Its a further reminder of how uncompetitive the league has become. And its not like there weren't alternatives. Roma could've brought back Santon, Criscito, Bocchetti, Caldirola or the admittedly right sided Donati? How come noones bidding for Darmian? D'Ambrosio needs to be rescued from Inter. And where's Ogbonna's career going at Juve?
on the 8th July, 2014 at 12:45pm

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