Chelsea have sounded out Benoit Assou-Ekotto as the man to replace outward bound Ashley Cole.
The Cameroonian international has featured just three times for the Blues’ arch rivals Tottenham this term courtesy of a persistent knee problem, but was one of the north London club’s most consistent performers of the previous campaign.
He is set to return from injury in the New Year and Chelsea are reportedly preparing a £5m bid to bring the former Lens star to Stamford Bridge.
It looks increasingly likely that resident left back Cole will walk away from the west Londoners at the end of the season, unhappy with the length of the extension offered to his current deal, and the recruitment of a replacement appears to be one of Rafa Benitez’s priorities in January.
As a full back rich in Premier League experience, as well as having sampled Champions League football during his Spurs career, 28-year-old Assou-Ekotto looks the ideal candidate to work in tandem alongside ever-improving young gun Ryan Bertrand.
However, at 23, many would argue that Bertrand’s continued growth in stature makes a move for Assou-Ekotto unnecessary, with Chelsea already possessing a ready-made replacement for outgoing Cole in the fledgling England international.
According to the Daily Mail, another name at the top of the Blues’ shortlist is Southampton teenager Luke Shaw.
The 17-year-old has made 10 appearances in the Saints’ first team this season and is undeniably an exciting prospect for the future. What’s deterring Chelsea from lodging a bid, or so reports suggest, is the players’ age and the fact that, should they secure his signature, they would have two inexperienced youngsters vying for the same position.
Bertrand’s talent makes the signing of potential star Shaw the more economically sound option and Chelsea should put faith in their current number two to take the reigns of seniority in the left back department from next season. Placing him behind Assou-Ekotto in the pecking order would be a detriment to both his ability and the service he has given to the Blues in his career to date.
Bertrand is likely to get the chance to prove his worth in Chelsea’s Europa League campaign, which they are 6/1 favourites to end victoriously.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date