Chelsea's Ashley Cole could seek a lucrative escape to Barcelona in the summer, if boss André Villas-Boas remains in charge, according to the Daily Star.
Cole, along with team mate Frank Lampard, angrily confronted Villas-Boas before Tuesday's Champions League defeat to Napoli after discovering both would only be on the substitutes' bench, as reported by The Guardian.
And Barcelona who, along with rivals Real Madrid, have long admired the England left back, could step in to take advantage of the situation.
Several of Chelsea's senior players have voiced their disapproval with their Portuguese coach, as Villas-Boas tries to overhaul the London club. Currently, though, Villas Boas still believes he retains the support of owner Roman Abramovich in trying to shift aside the older players to make way for some fresh blood.
But, while Abramovich may realize that Chelsea is a team in transition, the Russian billionaire is not a man renowned for his patience when it comes to achieving results. Indeed, Villas-Boas has admitted that he was required to explain his team selection, and the omission of Cole and Lampard, to the owner after the 3-1 reversal in Naples that left the club's Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.
I have spoken to the persons near to him [Abramovich]. He is disappointed and asking questions about how we set up the team, which were duly explained, he said, according to The Guardian.
Certainly Cole would have no shortage of takers should he decide that his talents would be better appreciated elsewhere. The 31-year-old has long been regarded across Europe as one of the finest left backs around. Whether Barcelona would be willing to pay a hefty fee to attract his services is open to doubt, however, especially as they just offered a new contract to their French left back Eric Abidal.