England midfielder Joe Cole will be a Liverpool player next season after his former club concluded a deal with the Merseyside Reds for $10m and Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun.
Cole is 28 and despite the football world agreeing he has prodigious talent, he has failed to nail down a regular starting place in either a talent rich Chelsea line up, or a talent poor England one. The list of managers who have not warmed to Cole is striking.
Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea both regularly selected other players over him, and more recently Fabio Capello made little use of him during the World Cup, despite England’s appalling lack of creativity.
He did not start for England in the World Cup, coming on twice in the second half.
Beyond that, injury has also prevented his challenge to be one of those vaunted ‘first names on the teamsheet’ that managers talk of to praise players.
With Capello remaining in the job, there seems no likelihood that he will not travel in the well furrowed path of hugely talented players like Mat Le Tissier, Tony Currie, Glenn Hoddle and Stan Bowles that couldn’t persuade England managers that natural talent was a replacement for team tactics.
At 28, he is clearly no longer in the category of a youngster with an amazing future. He has signed a 4 year deal with Liverpool which will take him will into the closing stages of his career.
Liverpool fans do not quite welcome each new signing as a messiah in the way that Newcastle fans do with managers and Number Nines, but this signing does seem to have set pulses racing just a little faster on the red half of the city.
They have a new manager in Roy Hodgson who will be given carte blanche to make changes despite the popularity of his predecessor Rafa Benitez. Liverpool finished seventh last year and watched Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and worst of all, Manchester City, overtake them. With City’s enormous wealth able to recruit some world class players, it is clear that this may be more than an aberration.
Hodgson still has more work to do in order to build that staring side that will take the field at Anfield for the visit of Arsenal on opening day. He has already added Serbian forward Milan Jovanovic who arrived on a three-year contract from Standard Liege in Belgium.
The futures of England captain Steve Gerrard and World Cup-winning striker Fernando Torres at Anfield are still uncertain and speculation is centering around the likely reaction of Gerrard and Torres to the addition of a top class creative player to Liverpool’s midfield engine room. Gerrard gave the strongest indication yet this morning that he intends to return, by telling the media he “wanted to meet Hodgson privately and that he could not wait for the season to start.”
In June, Cole made a strange statement to the press, citing unspecified reasons “political rather than footballing” for his his departure, but he insisted manager these were not connected to the coach Ancelotti.
“It is not financial and it is nothing to do with Carlo,” Cole said at the time. “I love Carlo. I think he is a top guy and a top manager. I loved my time at Chelsea, I love the fans but it is a story for another day and I will tell it but now is not the time.”
Cole has now joined the Liverpool FC squad at their pre-season training camp in Switzerland. Hodgson is expected to hunt for a left back next after Fabio Aurelio and Emiliano Insua both departed.