Roberto Di Matteo is "very optimistic" Ashley Cole will sign a new contract at Chelsea before the the transfer window opens after the left back's first goal in 28 months kept the team top of the Premier League.
Blues boss Di Matteo has no fears the man he hailed as a Stamford Bridge "legend" would hit January in a position to be able to pen a pre-contract agreement with a rival club.
"I'm very optimistic that it will be dealt with before that," Di Matteo said after watching Cole net a vital late winner in the European champions' 1-0 victory over Stoke yesterday.
Di Matteo confirmed he had recommended to the Chelsea board that they keep Cole "as long as they can" before waxing lyrical about the 31-year-old, who controversially joined the club from Arsenal six years ago.
"He has become a legend -- he is now Chelsea through and through," said Di Matteo. "But I wouldn't say it's just happened recently. He's been here many years and has contributed a lot to this club."
Hailing Cole as an ideal example for Chelsea's new players to follow, he added: "He's a fantastic pro, which I'm not sure whether you know.
"Somebody that's the first one out in training, one of the first into the building with JT (John Terry), trains every day like a professional, reliable, somebody that you could go to war with," he added. "And he's a very quiet guy as well. He's very private at his own stuff. He's one of the best left-backs in the world."
Reports have suggested that Cole suffers from a persistent ankle problem that can limit his ability to train but Di Matteo said: "He's physically very good, very strong, has the ability to recover very quickly from game to game. Offers us a lot on that left hand side."
Cole does not offer many goals but asked whether he would urge Cole to get forward more often, Di Matteo said: "He'll have to buy me dinner. That's what I'm going to ask him.
"For two years, he hasn't scored and now he has, so he should buy me dinner."