With the Ashley Cole to PSG tweet today coupled with the comments from Rafa Benitez yesterday, it's probably time for Chelsea fans to start considering the very real possibility that Ashley Cole may not be with the club for very much longer. Cole is out of contract at the end of the year, and therefore Chelsea would not receive any sort of fee for him if they decide to part ways at the end of this season.
There's certainly a possibility that Chelsea decide not to hit the open market should Cole leave, deciding instead to replace him in-house with Ryan Bertrand and give the backup job to Patrick van Aanholt (possible) or Ben Gordon (unlikely). For the moment though, let's assume Chelsea decide to find a replacement for either Cole or Bertrand (assuming he becomes first choice) via the transfer market. Most importantly here, I'm looking specifically at the impact of this potential move on FFP.
Before looking at comparable players, let's look at Cole. He's a Chelsea player already, so he wouldn't cost a transfer fee to retain. He's currently on wages of £120k per week, meaning his annual salary is £6.24 million. Calculating his hit on FFP is simple then, as his transfer fee will no longer be showing up on the Chelsea books. To replace Ashley Cole and not take a hit towards complying with FFP, Chelsea simply need to find a replacement with an annual cost of £6.24 million or less.
I decided to take a look at what the market had to offer last summer, and there happened to be a pair of fairly high profile left backs that switched clubs in that period. Jordi Alba is a guy that I'm sure just about any of us would be more than happy with as a replacement, so let's look at what his FFP hit looks like first.
Alba cost Barcelona a transfer fee of £11.2 million*. He signed a 5-year contract worth £ 72,856k per week, meaning his annual salary is just under £3.79 million. Now we take the £11.2 million fee and divide it by 5 to give us the initial amortized cost of his transfer**, giving us an annual hit of £2.24 million from his transfer fee to be added to his wages. Jordi Alba's annual hit on Barcelona's books according to FFP would be just under ££6.03 million, about £210k less than a one-year extension of Ashley Cole's current contract would cost Chelsea.
*All figures were reported in Euros and have been converted, this should explain some of the odd numbers
**This number would decrease if he eventually signs an extension
Barcelona did well with the Alba deal, so I decided to look at another left back that moved over the summer. We had been linked with Alvaro Pereira in the past, and he happened to be sold from Porto to Inter. His transfer fee was far smaller than that of Alba, he cost Inter only £8.01 million. I've seen two different figures reported on his wages, but for the sake of this discussion I'm going to use the higher figure. The less conservative estimate would have Pereira's annual wages at £2.42 million, also on a 5-year deal. Alvaro Pereira costs Inter Milan £4.02 million annually according to FFP, or £2.22 million per year less than Ashley Cole does on his current contract.
From a sentimental standpoint, it will hurt to see Ashley Cole leave Chelsea over the summer. Financially though, it makes very little sense to keep him when an adequate, younger replacement probably leaves more money to spend elsewhere. Yes, he's still a very good player. He's no longer irreplaceable though, and that move could actually save Chelsea money. It's food for thought, but Chelsea are probably making the correct decision on Cole from an FFP compliance standpoint by refusing to go beyond one year at his current wages.