AC Milan are preparing to test Chelsea’s resolve by making an audacious January bid for England left-back Ashley Cole.
The 31-year-old’s current contract with the west London club expires in the summer and with the European champions reportedly only prepared to offer the former Arsenal star a one-year extension, Cole could be tempted to explore alternative options.
Milan, who have made a disappointing start to the new Serie A season, are understood to be in the market for a new left-back and could make their move for Cole as early as January, rather than attempt to secure his services on a free come June.
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Mattia De Sciglio, 19, has occupied the left-back spot in recent weeks, with manager Massimiliano Allegri preferring to field the experienced Luca Antonini in the Champions League.
Cole joined Chelsea from their London rivals the Gunners in controversial circumstances six years ago but has accumulated seven major honours during his time at Stamford Bridge and is due to win his 99th England cap against San Marino on Friday.
Despite his continued on-field excellence, Cole has continued to court negative press off it. Indeed, earlier this week Cole was charged with misconduct by the Football Association over his Twitter outburst last Friday when he referred to the governing body as a "bunch of t****" in response to the independent regulatory commission's judgement on his evidence in the John Terry racial abuse case.
Cole’s club manager Roberto Di Matteo also confirmed last week that his multi-decorated left-back would face an internal inquiry having contravened the club’s own social media policy.