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Real Madrid could be close to signing Chelsea veteran Ashley Cole, according to reports.
The 33-year-old defender, whose contract runs out on 30 June, has lost his place at Stamford Bridge this season as Blues boss Jose Mourinho has opted to play Cesar Azpilicueta instead – even though the Spaniard usually plays on the opposite flank.
Reports suggest Cole will run down his contract and then move as a free agent over the summer. The defender's agent, Jonathan Barnett, offered Cole to Los Blancos months ago and talks between the player and the Spanish club have already begun.
According to El Confidencial, Real Madrid are ready to give him a two-year deal worth £3.5m per-season.
Although Cole is 33, the fact that he would be available without a transfer fee appears to make him an attractive option for the Spanish giants.
However, the exit of Manchester United target Fabio Coentrao is an essential prerequisite to Cole's departure. The Portuguese is doing his best, although he is set to leave the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of this season.
Former Red Devils coach David Moyes has already tried to lure the 26-year-old to the Premier League and the club may make another move this summer.
Cole's World Cup place is in jeopardy as he is no longer Mourinho's first-choice left-back. Indeed he only started last night's match at Atletico Madrid because Branislav Ivanovic was suspended, and Mourinho was forced to move Azpilicueta to the right flank.
Apart from Cole, Chelsea have two other senior players out of contract at the end of the season: John Terry, who has only been offered a new one-year deal, and Frank Lampard, who has been linked with a move to LA Galaxy.