Chelsea are reportedly scouting Swiss international Ricardo Rodriguez as a long-term successor to England left-back Ashley Cole. The 20 year old defender presently plays for Bundesliga club Vfl Wolfsburg and has a contract till 2015. The Mirror reports that apart from Chelsea, Italian club AC Milan are also interested in the player.
The reigning European champions already have a promising young talent for that position in Ryan Bertrand. The 23-year-old Stamford Bridge academy graduate spent four years out on loan early in his career but has since established himself as a key member of manager Roberto Di Matteo's first team.
Cole, 31, is in the final year of his contract with the Blues and has yet to agree an extension. The England international wants a longer contract than the one-year deal presently on the table. Unfortunately, that request runs contrary to the club's policy on contract guidelines for players over 30; another Blues' veteran, midfielder Frank Lampard, finds himself in a similar situation.
The contract stand-off between Cole and Chelsea has reportedly attracted the attentions of a few top clubs around Europe, with French Ligue 1 club Paris St Germain (PSG) and Spanish La Liga champions Real Madrid believed to be interested.
However, a recent comment from PSG's sporting director, former Brazilian international Leonardo, suggests the French have ended whatever interest they had. Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho's side do have Brazilian Marcelo and Portuguese Fabio Coentrao to fill the left-back slot but unfortunately both players suffered injuries in the international break, with Marcelo being ruled out for three months. Cole could be a viable option for Mourinho, given the former Inter Milan manager was instrumental in bringing him to Stamford Bridge in the first place.
The London club are presently preparing to host Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, in a Champions League group stage match. The defending champions suffered an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to the Ukrainians in the reverse fixture two weeks ago and Di Matteo will know that nothing less than a confident win will do for the club's title ambitions.
The Italian, a former Chelsea player, has tremendous confidence in Bertrand, having started the youngster in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich. And the 42 year old is happy to keep faith in his player, meaning that if Rodriguez does arrive at Stamford Bridge, he could have quite a task to displace Bertrand from the first team.