The rumours were flying around yesterday that Ashley Cole had agreed a one-year contract extension with Chelsea, and now Rafa Benitez has confirmed that something is very much in the works. Speaking to the press in the aftermath of the Blues' 2-1 victory against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, the interim manager was asked about Cole's status, and replied that although the paperwork hadn't quite been finalised, the deal was more or less in place.
I know many of you quite sensibly refuse to take anything as done and dusted until the club makes an official announcement, but it's now virtually certain that Cole will stick around for another year, despite Benitez's earlier claims (remember those?) that he'd be gone in summer. The terms of the contract are as yet unclear -- it's unlikely that Cole came cheap -- but with replacement left backs at a premium, Chelsea's hands were probably forced into spending more money than they'd have strictly liked to.
But that's probably worth it to keep some stability in the defensive line. Cole hasn't been consistently amazing this season, but he has been consistently present and has come up with the occasional world-class performance. Next year will be his eighth with the Blues, and he's well on his way to his 300th Chelsea appearance. Having him around next season, assuming the cost isn't completely exorbitant, strikes me as a rather good thing.
Now, about Frank Lampard...