Ashley Cole certainly wasn’t a popular man when he made the switch from Arsenal to Stamford Bridge in 2006.
There have been a few transfers which have shook the very foundations of tribalism in the Premier League; Carlos Tevez to Manchester City, Sol Campbell to Tottenham, Eric Cantona to Manchester United and Nick Barmby to Liverpool, and, of course, Ashley Cole to Chelsea.
Ah, yes – Ashley Cole leaving Arsenal to join Premier League bad guys Chelsea – this move will go down as one of the most unforgivable transfer treacheries in the history of modern football. Not just because the two are rivals, though that alone is enough to make everyone’s ‘most controversial transfers’ list, but because every player who sides with a team adjudged to be buying the league like Chelsea were circa 2006, or even Manchester City now, are seen as morally corrupt, evil masterminds who are intent on collapsing the sport as we know it (apparently).
The former England international was without doubt one of the greatest talents the nation had produced in an age, we all know that now. But an unwavering divisiveness often shrouded just how good he was at the time; the raging dichotomy between a purely objective perspective and one based in emotion; one which acknowledged his unprecedented ability to bridge the gap between traditional and modern defending to such incredible effect, whilst also vilifying him for turning his back on his former club.
For the debate, however, of which there was clearly a lot, there was one undeniable fact that trumped all: Ashley Cole achieved remarkable things at Chelsea. Over the period of six years, he made 338 appearances winning both the Champions League and the Europa League, whilst guiding the Blues to a single Premier League title and four FA Cups.
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