According to The Times, Joe Cole's contract talks with Chelsea have hit a stumbling block over the player's wage demands.
As the England international's contract is poised to expire during the summer, there is a real possibility of the player leaving Stamford Bridge on a Bosman transfer.
The club are reportedly confident that an agreement will be reached well before the 28-year-old's contract expires, but are believed to have made little headway in the talks over the past 18 months.
It is claimed that Cole is demanding a weekly raise of £40,000, which would put him on par with Nicolas Anelka and Michael Essien on £120,000-a-week. But the club are said to be willing to part with 'only' £100,000-a-week, thereby reaching an impasse in the contractual talks between the player and the club.
Although the Englishman maintains that he would like to finish his career with the Blues, it is believed that he has so far remained unwilling to lower his wage demands. Manager Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed the same by saying: "The economic factor is an issue for the club to sort out."
Liverpool, Manchester United, and Manchester City are said to be closely monitoring the situation with a view to snapping up the creative midfielder, should he become available during the summer.