So soon after the departure of center back Omar Gonzalez, the LA Galaxy could already be lining up a move for another high profile defender.
A report out of The Sun said earlier today that Ashley Cole could be on his way to Los Angeles as soon as next month. The 35 year old won over 100 caps with the English national team while starring for Chelsea and Arsenal, making quite a big name for himself in the process.
Now it seems that the move has some serious legs, as ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle is reporting that the LA Galaxy are currently in talks with the fullback, and have placed a non-DP offer on the table. According to the ESPN FC report, the Galaxy are showing interest that both New York City FC-who were previously rumored to be Cole's destination-and Aston Villa have failed to match.
During the prime of his career, Cole was regarded as one of the top left fullbacks in Europe, winning three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, and a UEFA Champions League medal at the club level, while playing in three FIFA World Cups for England. Those numbers speak for themselves, and the veteran's pedigree is undeniable.
More recently, however, his fortunes have turned and he finds himself a free agent. His contract was terminated after only a year by Roma following a spell that saw him make just eleven Serie A appearances since signing in the Summer of 2014. Unfortunately for Cole, it's not just his performances on the field that have left questions surrounding his future.
The left back has a penchant for creating controversy with words, and has been critical of Major League Soccer in the recent past. He drew the ire of the MLS community last year, telling Roma's website, "I have had other offers from USA but I didn't want to sit on the beach yet," when asked about his decision to move to the Italian side.
Adding to the proof of his negative views toward Major League Soccer was a tweet he sent during the same time period, saying that his move to Roma was facilitated by his desire for "a more demanding place and team" than he would find in North America.
Naturally, the attitude of most MLS fans towards Ashley Cole has since turned sour, making reports of a move stateside even stranger. Certainly, if the speculation of Cole's desire for a move to the Galaxy turns out to be true, it means he finally feels ready to "sit on a beach."
The Sun's report seems to back that notion, reading, "Cole is free to find a new home after being released by Roma and he fancies Los Angeles over offers in England."
Of course, no player could be faulted for wanting to ply his trade in one of the most ideal climates and luxurious cities in the world, but Cole's past comments paint a picture that seems to favor the idea of a paid vacation over that of the MLS competition which he so clearly underrates.
So, after reading these reports from both The Sun and ESPN FC, the question becomes: What could LA possibly see in a 35 year-old Ashley Cole?
Why sign a player who so arrogantly badmouthed the league, who is so clearly past his prime, and who doesn't fill an immediate need on a suddenly depleted team?
If the Galaxy sign Cole, they will find themselves with three 35 year-old players making up the spine of their team. While Robbie Keane has been prolific during his time in MLS, Steven Gerrard has proved incapable of carving out a successful fit in Bruce Arena's puzzle. As it stands, it seems unlikely that Arena would be interested in making the same mistake twice in such quick succession.
From a tactical standpoint, Ashley Cole doesn't bring the LA Galaxy anything they don't already have. Robbie Rogers is currently one of the top three left fullbacks in Major League Soccer, and fellow members of the Galaxy fullback corps Dan Gargan and A.J. DeLaGarza are more than capable players. United States U-23 fullback Oscar Sorto also has a bright future ahead of him.
On top of this lies the issue of money, a limiting factor in MLS transactions. If the Galaxy were to seriously pursue Cole, they'd have to do so using Targeted Allocation Money. As a player with a lengthy European resume and an admittedly healthy pedigree, Cole would most likely command a significant portion of the $800,000 of TAM placed in the care of LA by Major League Soccer, limiting the club heavily in its pursuit of other players to strengthen the roster.
In an offseason that has already seen the departure of the club's best defender, wisely using available resources to bring in players is a paramount task for the Galaxy. Currently, it looks as though Dave Romney and Daniel Steres, two signings from LA Galaxy II, make up a significant portion of the Galaxy's center back corps, with Leonardo and Tommy Meyer filling out the positional depth chart. If the Galaxy were to spend on a defender, it would make sense to do so in the center rather than replacing a top left fullback. Of course, that money could also be spent on bolstering a largely unpredictable central midfield.
The bottom line is that Ashley Cole to the LA Galaxy looks, walks, and talks like a bad move. Not only would the move not fill an immediate need and end in a rather large waste of money, but it would also leave a bad taste in the mouth of the MLS community at large.
What do you think of this move? Should the Galaxy give it a shot or look to take their chances elsewhere? Let us know in the comments section.