Ancelotti keeps anxious Cole guessing
Relations between Joe Cole and Chelsea have been affected by the news that the club are in active negotiations to extend the contracts of both Nicolas Anelka and Michael Ballack.
Cole, whose deal expires on June 30, and his advisers were under the impression that all contract talks were on hold until the summer. Not so, say Chelsea, who firmly dispute that claim. But it has not helped the 28-year-old's sense of being wanted at the club he joined seven years ago.
Cole had asked for a new, improved offer more than two years ago and was told to wait by the then chief executive Peter Kenyon. The priority was tying down Frank Lampard.
A serious knee injury, with Cole out for nine months, caused a further delay, while other Chelsea players have signed new deals in the meantime. Significantly, the midfielder has failed to hold down a first-team place on a regular basis under Carlo Ancelotti.
The official position remains that player and club want a deal to happen -- and one may well be concluded -- but it's highly unusual for an international in his prime to be in the situation that Cole now finds himself in, especially coming towards a World Cup finals, which he is danger of missing out on.
Certainly part of his negotiations centred around getting into the "upper quartile" of earners at Stamford Bridge with an improvement on his £80,000-a-week salary to take him into six figures.
That has been balked at by Chelsea. However, although it's clear that money and length of contract are factors, the greater concern now appears to be Cole's inability to convince Ancelotti to play him. The recent failure to come on against Inter Milan in the Champions League -- the manager preferred to use the pace of Daniel Sturridge -- did not go unnoticed.
Cole is now in a quandary. There will be no shortage of clubs interested in him this summer -- and tentative offers are being made -- with Liverpool understood to be keen, followed by Tottenham Hotspur. Then there is the possibility of a move to Italy or Spain, something that Cole has always hankered after.
Talk of pay leads to the question: what's the biggest wage discrepancy between team-mates at one club in the Premier League?
Surely it's that between Henrique Hilario and John Terry, who will line up for Chelsea against Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday. Terry is paid £150,000 a week; Hilario is believed to be on a basic of £4,000 with £2,000 appearance money. Not that, in the real world where the rest of us live, the Chelsea goalkeeper is badly paid.
A basic salary of £312,000 a year (he gets the appearance money even if he, as he does when Petr Cech is fit, sits on the bench) is more than many chief executives and not to be sniffed at. (© Daily Telegraph, London).