After a year playing in France, Joe Cole will return to Liverpool next season in what could be a defining moment in the attacking midfielder’s dwindling career. After a year playing for Lille, the playmaker will have hoped to have rekindled form and fitness to state his case sufficiently in the Reds squad. Add to this the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as the new Anfield boss, and Cole could play a part in trying to get Liverpool back into top-four contention next term.
At his best Cole is one of the most gifted English players in recent memory. A big statement admittedly, the West Ham youth product has shown exceptional technique when in the mood, with a successful spell at Stamford Bridge the most memorable period in the attacker’s career. However, a dip in form and debilitating injuries following a move to Merseyside limited Cole to the point that he was surplus to requirements.
Kenny Dalglish openly admitted that Cole was not part of his plans, however Brendan Rodgers’ style may well suit the former England international. The Northern Irish coach will instil a footballing mentality into the Reds squad, and Cole’s ability on the ball may appeal to Rodgers and well see him as a regular in the first-team set-up finally.
A year playing abroad will have educated Cole in contrasting styles and approaches to the game, and the Englishman was a hit at the Stade Lille Metropole. Rudy Garcia’s men have admitted that they would have liked to have kept Cole on a permanent basis, but the financial side of the deal proved a stumbling block. The playmaker also seems to have put niggling injuries behind him, and if he gets a full pre-season under his belt there is no reason that Cole can’t rediscover his form in 2012-13.
Although the lack of a clinical edge rather than creativity was Liverpool’s Achilles Heel last season, a fully-fit and ready Cole interlinking with Luis Suarez and creating chances for a new striker could well be a potent proposition. The past should be forgotten and the player handed a clean slate; if Cole is given a fair crack at the whip he may be as good as a new signing for Liverpool.