Free agent Joe Cole could reject the overtures of both Tottenham and Arsenal this summer to make a shock transfer to Italy to play for AC Milan next season.
Reports in Italy suggest the England international’s representatives have been contacted by the Serie A giants over the possibility of a three-year deal this summer.
The news is likely to worry fans of both the north London clubs, who are believed to be neck-and-neck in the race to sign Cole – available on a free transfer after being released by Chelsea.
However, in order to join Milan, Cole would be forced to accept a significantly lower salary than he would receive from the Gunners or Spurs – as both English clubs are thought to be offering at least the £80,000-a-week he was on at Stamford Bridge last season.
Milan’s offer is reported to be worth only £3million a year – the equivalent of £60,000 a week – although the lower rate of income tax in Italy would bump up his take-home pay slightly.
Nevertheless, Cole’s agent is thought to be demanding at least £100,000 a week to sign for an English team – although the lure of testing himself in a foreign league before he ends his career could tempt him into a compromise.
According to Corriere Dello Sport, the deal appears to have been sparked by an informal conversation between AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani and England manager Fabio Capello, who recommended the midfielder to his close friend.
However, with news of the talks leaking out, other top Italian clubs could be pushed into making an offer for Cole this summer.
And any deals put on the table by Juventus, Lazio, or AC’s Milan rivals Inter are likely to spark a bidding war – pushing up the wages the former West Ham starlet could hope to command in Serie A.