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Saturday, 13 July 2013

Where will former Chelsea and West Ham striker Carlton Cole end up?

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The arrival of Andy Carroll at West Ham United on loan last season saw Carlton Cole fall down the pecking order at Upton Park and it came as no surprise to see the former Chelsea man walk away from the Hammers when Big Sam finally secured the former Liverpool and Newcastle hitman permanently.

Many West Ham fans were upset to see Cole go. He arrived from Chelsea in 2006 and although he had a slow start to his career in the East End everyone knew he had the tools to thrive in the top flight. The arrival of former Chelsea team-mate Gianfranco Zola was the key moment in Cole's career. The little Italian knew Cole's strengths down to a tee and managed to get the best out of him. In the 2008/09 season Cole hit double figures in the league for the first time. His form not only earned him a  new five-year deal but also a call up to the England fold. 

Carlton ColeUnlike some of his team-mates who jumped ship when the Hammers were relegated in 2011, Cole remained loyal to the cause and helped Big Sam's men back to the top flight at the first time of asking. Cole may not have been a prolific marksman but he was a great target man, particularly if the ball was played to him on the floor, and could bring his team-mates into the game with some deft touches. However, Cole and the West Ham board couldn't agree a suitable deal and he is now ready for a new challenge.

A number of English sides have already expressed their interest in signing the 29-year-old with Premier League new boys Crystal Palace and Hull City keeping tabs on him, along with Championship outfit QPR. Scottish champions Celtic are also linked with Cole, but he may be on his way to Europe having opened talks with Turkish side Kasimpasa.

Cole will never challenge for the Golden Boot but he is a team player. On his day he is unstoppable. He is a big old unit and there's nothing worse than having him charging at you full pelt with the ball at his feet. Unfortunately he needs to produce this form consistently. 

At 29, Cole should be at the peak of his career and new surroundings should give him the incentive to knuckle down and prove West Ham they were wrong to show him the door.

Personally I'd like to see Cole remain in England, but I assume he wants to keep playing in the top flight for as long as possible. That's always a risk as far as Palace and Hull are concerned as they will be among the favourites to go straight back down. Harry Redknapp would get the best out of him, but what on earth is going to happen with the Rs in the Championship? Would an established Premier League side like West Brom, Stoke City or Fulham be prepared to take a punt on Cole? We will wait and see.

Here are the latest odds regarding Cole's future:

Kasimpasa 2/1

Crystal Palace 9/1

Hull City 9/1

Celtic 20/1

Any MLS side 25/1

Fulham 33/1

QPR 33/1

West Brom 40/1

Stoke City 50/1


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Antony Melvin



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