Done at West Ham United, Joe Cole appears ready to join his fourth club since leaving Chelsea four years ago. According to reports out of Birmingham, the 32-year-old attacker has undergone a medical with Aston Villa after talks with the club leave the two sides on the edge of a deal.
By this point, we’re well beyond the tedious talk of Cole’s potential or misused talents. We can talk about what he actually brings to a club. At West Ham, that wasn’t much, given the other options Sam Allardyce had at his disposal, but for Paul Lambert, Cole could provide some needed depth as well as a player that’s capable of carrying the ball away from midfield. If Villa continues to be so dependent on transition soccer, Cole’s skill on the ball could provide some valuable connections going forward.
How often he would play would be the question. At 32 years old, he’s probably not a game in, game out player, particularly given his injury history. But if you’re team that needs a 32-year-old Joe Cole to play regularly, your problems go much deeper than one ill-cast signing. Off the bench or as somebody who can make 8-10 starts each season, Cole seems reasonable, particularly since he’s unlikely to be expensive.
In 20 appearances (six starts) last season, Cole scored three times, bringing his total to five goals over 18 months with West Ham. Cole moved to East London after a failed stint at Liverpool, one that saw him spend the 2011-12 season on loan in France with Lille.
At one time key part of title-winning teams at Chelsea, Cole’s post-Stamford Bridge career has been an erratic one. At Aston Villa, however, he’ll carry none of the expectations that accompanied him in his mid and late 20s.
Even if his acquisition doesn’t prove a valuable one, you can see why Paul Lambert’s interested in taking a chance on a player like Cole.