Barcelona to bid �20m for Ashley Cole

BARCELONA are poised to make a �20m move for Chelsea and England left-back Ashley Cole. (Daily Express)Barca, the Champions League finalists, have already sounded out the Blues about England full-back Cole and are ready to come back with a firm bid when the season ends.

BARCELONA are poised to make a �20m move for Chelsea and England left-back Ashley Cole. (Daily Express)

Barca, the Champions League finalists, have already sounded out the Blues about England full-back Cole and are ready to come back with a firm bid when the season ends.

A host of clubs are hovering around Cole, whose excellent season for Chelsea has restored his reputation as a top-class defender. Mega-rich Manchester City have also made their intentions clear - even though they signed another left-back in Wayne Bridge from Chelsea earlier this year - and have offered Cole, 28, a five-year deal worth about �130,000 a week.

Inter Milan are also watching developments, but it is Barca who seem set to make the first move as they look to replace error-prone Frenchman Eric Abidal and the ageing Brazilian Silvinho. Clubs are hoping to capitalise on any confusion at Chelsea with interim manager


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Guus Hiddink leaving after the FA Cup final on May 30 and AC Milan chief Carlo Ancelotti not yet confirmed as his successor at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea, though, are acutely aware of all the attention round one of their most coveted players - and have already opened talks on a lucrative new five-year deal which would hike Cole's wages up from their �80,000 a week to somewhere level with the top earners at the club like Michael Ballack and John Terry, at about �120,000.

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Former Arsenal star Cole, who has had his share of off-the-field problems recently but has still been one of Hiddink's most consistent performers, has two years of his current contract remaining. Chelsea are anxious they do not go into the final year without tying up an agreement. Cole does not want to leave Chelsea right now and is not keen on a move to Eastlands. But a switch to the glamour of the Nou Camp to reunite with his friend Thierry Henry could appeal. Chelsea will fiercely resist any bids - but are braced for more interest.

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