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Three clubs considering move for Cole

Three clubs have indicated that they want to open pre-contract talks with Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, potentially sparking a big-money battle for his services.

Cole still hopes to sign a new contract with Chelsea - his current deal expires in the summer - but the Blues have a policy of offering only one-year deals to players over the age of 30, and the England full-back is 31.

He has already rejected the offer of a one-year contract, and news that a trio of clubs are interested could result in him being offered a huge payday to move when his deal runs out.

But Cole's preferred option is to remain at Stamford Bridge and sign a three-year deal, and he holds out hope that Blues owner Roman Abramovich will make him an exception to the over-30 rule.

A source told ESPN: "There is big interest in Russia, but Ashley isn't keen to go there as there is also interest in France, Spain and Italy."

There have been indications from Stamford Bridge that the club's hierarchy would like to resolve the Cole contract situation before Christmas.

If that happens, they can avoid a situation in which, by the turn of the year, the defender is free to negotiate and sign a pre-contract with another club.

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