Liverpool pay Joe Cole £3m to leave Anfield
Published 03/01/2013 | 05:00
Joe Cole is on his way back to West Ham, after agreeing a £3m pay-off to end his unhappy stay at Liverpool.
Cole (31) headed to Upton Park for a medical after his boyhood club agreed a permanent deal, while Daniel Sturridge sealed a move from London to Merseyside as Liverpool signed the 23-year-old striker from Chelsea for £12m.
Liverpool will release Cole on a free transfer, approving a lucrative package to terminate his contract.
The former England midfielder initially appeared to be heading for a reunion with former manager Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers, but the lure of a return to Upton Park was too strong to resist.
West Ham were unable to make a loan offer for their former player because they already have Andy Carroll on a temporary basis from Liverpool and Premier League rules do not allow clubs to loan two players from the same side.
That forced West Ham manager Sam Allardyce's hand, with the key obstacle being the finances of a permanent transfer.
Liverpool knew they would have to agree a severance with the player they signed in the summer of 2010. Cole's four-year contract on Merseyside is worth £92,000 a week, which West Ham cannot match.
Liverpool said they will save about £4m by paying Cole to leave now, given that the last 18 months of his deal is worth about £7m. However, that still equates to a considerable bill to move him off the payroll.
In fact, he has been a bit-part player under three successive Liverpool managers.
The attraction of Upton Park, the club where he made his name as a schoolboy international and teenage prodigy, is clearly sentimental as much as professional.
Cole scored the equaliser in Liverpool's 3-2 win against West Ham last month, but tellingly refused to celebrate the goal. Once West Ham had declared an interest, they were inevitably his first choice, despite his affection for Redknapp.
It will be an emotional moment when Cole wears the West Ham shirt again, his career having gone full circle, but there remains a sense of unfulfilled promise about a player who was once regarded as the exciting future of English football. Now he finds his career in need of resuscitation at the club where it all began.
When Cole was only 16 and courting attention in the West Ham youth team, Manchester United were believed to be prepared to pay £10m for him.
He made his debut in an FA Cup tie 14 years ago this month, aged 17, and was named the club captain when he was only 21. After West Ham's relegation in 2003 – having played more than 100 games in five years – he joined Chelsea, where he won three Premier League titles and two FA Cups.
His career has stalled since his last season at Stamford Bridge, when he struggled to recover from injury and was sidelined by manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Liverpool signed him at a tumultuous period in their history, in the summer of 2010 when the club were for sale and looking for a new manager, while players such as Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina were considering their future.
continued on page 58