Top 10 left-backs Chelsea could buy to replace Ashley Cole
So that's it for Ashley Cole - his England and Chelsea career have come to an end.
A glittering semi-retirement beckons, probably in the American Major Soccer League to join the likes of Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe.
During his time at Arsenal and Chelsea, the 33-year-old won over 100 England caps and was arguably the world's best full back over the last decade.
So how do you replace someone like that? Here are the top 10 left-backs from around the world who Jose Mourinho should be looking to sign before the new Premier League season.
1) Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg)
Credit: Kate Orlova (YouTube)
Zenit St. Petersburg's Italian defender is great in the air and is not scared of a tackle. And he has that rare commodity for fullbacks in the modern game - he can defend as well as bomb forward when needed.
A versatile member of the Italian Euro 2012 squad, England should watch out for him in their first World Cup group match in Brazil next month.
2) Luke Shaw (Southampton)
Ok so he's probably going to Manchester United - but since when has a 'done deal' stopped Jose before? Arjen Robben and Jon Obi Mikel were 'certain' to go to Man Utd before signing for Chelsea at the last minute.
In case you've been living in an underground bunker with no Match of the Day this season, Shaw is widely fancied to become a top England left back after a great season for Southampton and impressive England debut against Denmark this year.
3) Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Picture: Carlos Delgado (Wikimedia Commons)
The 28-year-old Brazilian has developed as one of the best full backs in La Liga and is one so many players who have helped Atletico break the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly in Span this season.
He is a physical presence, capable of both dominating opponents and powering up and down the left flank to help out both on attack and defence.
4) Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan)
Credit: ScoutNationHD (YouTube)
This young Italian can play on the left or the right and is highly rated for his reading of the game and maturity for a player still years away from his peak.
He has great pace and technical ability and performed well for Italy in last summer's Confederations Cup.
5) Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Picture: Майоров Владимир (Wikipedia)
Many may think this a surprising choice, but Marcelo is first-choice left-back for both Brazil and Real Madrid, so he can not be ignored in any discussion of the world's best full-backs.
Not only is he a brave attacker and astute passer, he would slot right in to to a dressing room bless with Brazilian talent in Ramires, David Luiz, Oscar and Willian.
But, whereas Ashley Cole was an expert marker and very tactically aware, Marcelo is prone to switching off and showing positional mistakes.
6) Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
You may not have heard of him two years ago, but this Spanish whirlwind has risen to the top of the game since his move to the Catalan giants.
His intelligence and awareness allows him to time his forward runs with perfection and, despite his small stature, is able to stand his ground when defending set pieces.
Could Mourinho prize him away from Barcelona? Now that would be an achievement....
7) David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
This powerful Austrian is still only 22 and uses his frightening pace to provide the width so necessary to a Bayern side which often suffers from trying to play too much through the middle.
His intelligent overlapping often creates opportunities both for himself to make a telling contribution or his partner on Bayern's left, Franck Ribery.
Like Bayern captain Philipp Lamm, he may develop into a fine central midfielder, which is where he plays for his country.
Could Mourinho prize away this player from his nemesis Pep Guardiola? That also be a fine achievement!
8) Daley Blind (Ajax)
The 24-year-old Dutch international is consistently improving and is very comfortable in possession.
The son of legendary defender Danny Blind, he has played for the Netherlands nine times, where he is played as a midfielder.
9) Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund)
The 26-year-old German has been a key part in the Champions League runners up side of last season under Jurgen Klopp and offers great urgency and energy down the left flank.
An interesting choice but perhaps not the cheapest - he is under contract with Dortmund until 2017.
10) Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli)
Picture: Steindy (Wikimedia Commons)
Watch out for Zuniga in the World Cup: this Colombian is a great attacking outlet for Italian side Napoli thanks to his direct running and pace.
He has not quite lived up to his reputation as a youngest, having been compared to Roberto Carlos and Cafu, but the 28-year-old would be a solid choice nevertheless.
Who else should Jose Mourinho look to sign? Should Chelsea move heaven and earth to prize Leighton Baines down south, or do you think the Blues can make do with Cesar Azpilicueta? Have your say by leaving a comment below...
(Tim Harrison is on holiday.)
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