ASHLEY Cole is set to quit Chelsea at the end of the season after the defender failed to agree terms on a new contract.
Cole is adamant he will not sign the one-year extension on offer and is preparing to speak with clubs outside of England, including Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, in January.
The England full-back, back in Roy Hodgson's team for the World Cup qualifier against Poland tomorrow night, is a victim of Chelsea's new policy for players over the age of 30.
If Cole, 31, and Frank Lampard (right), 34, who is also out of contract next summer, quit Stamford Bridge, it will be confirmation that Roman Abramovich is breaking up his Champions League-winning team.
The Russian told the players they were directly responsible for the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas last March and warned them their futures were on the line before they went on to win the FA Cup and European Cup.
Despite their success, Abramovich's threat appears to be real after the club's failure to match Cole and Lampard's salary expectations.
Chelsea only offered Didier Drogba a one-year extension last summer, but the Ivorian chose to quit.
Cole, whose availability next summer has also alerted Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, has played in 188 out of a possible 235 games in the Premier League since signing from Arsenal.
He missed the majority of those games in his first two seasons because of problems with his ankles, but has been reliable in the past four years.
Although Cole has to bathe his ankles in ice after games and has specially-adapted training, he has no fears about playing long term.
Chief executive Ron Gourlay is handling negotiations, but has been unable to make progress.
Both players believe they deserve more respect from the club, but Cole's cause has not been helped by his recent tweet rant against the English FA.