Cole and Terry braced for exit in Chelsea clearout
Ashley Cole and John Terry fear that they could have made their Stamford Bridge farewells after being left in limbo over their futures.
Cole was in tears after the goalless draw against Norwich as he, Terry and Frank Lampard broke off from the rest of the squad during the traditional lap of appreciation to applaud the Chelsea fans.
Chelsea opened talks last week over a new contract for Cole, but have yet to make him an offer.
The club started negotiations with Terry in March but the captain has not heard anything in four weeks. The lack of any breakthrough so late in the season has prompted Cole (33) and Terry to question whether they will start next season at Chelsea.
Terry stressed last week that he wants to stay at Chelsea for the rest of his career and is still hoping an agreement can be struck, but he has been left puzzled by the club's four-week silence.
The 33-year-old cried after the Champions League semi-final defeat against Atletico Madrid last week and used his captain's programme notes for the final home game to thank Chelsea's fans.
Terry wrote: "Personally, I want to say a big thank you for always showing me massive support on and off the field. I am honoured to be captain of this great football club – it was my dream when I arrived at 14 to go on and do what I have done."
Lampard is more optimistic that he will be able to agree a new one-year deal that could involve a future coaching role for the 35-year-old midfielder.
Chelsea are refusing to budge from their policy of offering outfield players older than 30 only one-year contract extensions. Cole, Terry and Lampard would also have to accept large pay cuts to stay.
Jose Mourinho has maintained that he believes Cole, Terry and Lampard will all stay, but the manager also warned that the club are ready to take their time to make decisions over the squad.
Chelsea play their final game of the season against Cardiff on Sunday before the club's Player of the Year awards the following day, after which the squad disperse for holidays.
Cole's last four performances since his recall have increased interest in him from rival Premier League clubs and overseas teams. Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and Monaco have made enquiries.
Cole must decide whether he wants to embark on a new challenge at this stage of his career. Retirement is another option that he could consider.
Terry has privately ruled out leaving Chelsea to play for another English club and has so far refused to consider offers from abroad that have been made since January. Galatasaray could offer a huge financial incentive to lure him to Turkey.
Mourinho last night once again bemoaned Chelsea's lack of a striker with a "killer instinct" and reiterated that the club will try to deal with that in the summer, with Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa the main target.
"Against the teams that are more defensive, more aggressive, more worried about trying to keep a clean sheet than really to play, we keep saying the same," Mourinho said last night.
"We have good players, but we don't have the kind of striker able to, in a short space, make an action, to score a goal, to open the gate.
"We have to try to win as a team, to improve as a team, but also add the attacking player with that killer instinct and the number of goals that push teams to different levels.
"It's something our club is going to try (to do), respecting obviously that we have good strikers." (© Daily Telegraph, London)