The veteran fullback has decided to leave the club after rejecting its latest contract offer, the Mail reports.
“Cole is adamant he will not sign the one-year extension on offer and is preparing to speak with foreign clubs, including Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, in January,” the report says.
“Cole, whose availability next summer has also alerted Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, has played in 188 out of a possible 235 games in the Premier League since signing from Arsenal six years ago.”
Testing the free-agent market next summer could yield a final payday for the Chelsea and England star, as a host of top clubs are rumored to be interested in signing him. He ranks among the best left backs in the world and is a starter for both club and country.
But Chelsea’s new policy of only offering one-year contracts to players over 30 years old will likely cost the Blues Cole’s services. Didier Drogba left the club under similar circumstances in June. He now plays in China for Shanghai Shenhua.
Cole, 31, joined Chelsea from Arsenal in 2006. He has won eight major trophies — including the Premier League in 2010 and the UEFA Champions League in 2012 — during his time at Stamford Bridge.
Cole has played 98 times for England since 2001. He holds England records for most appearances as a fullback (98) and most tournament appearances (21).
Off-field issues have stained what is shaping to be Cole’s final season in a Chelsea uniform. He directed an obscene tweet at the FA after an independent panel cast doubt on his testimony in the John Terry racism case. He apologized to the governing body and admitted to a misconduct charge last week. Disciplinary measures have not been announced at this point.