Carlton Cole will spend the forthcoming season at Aston Villa despite claims by Charlton that he may return to The Valley.
Chelsea striker Cole spent the last campaign with the Addicks, who were keen to re-sign him, but Villa announced on Monday that he was to join them on a season-long loan.
Charlton chief executive Peter Varney claimed Villa’s announcement, which was backed up by Chelsea, was “premature” but the player’s representatives insist his move to the midlands has been finalised.
Jonathan Barnett, chairman of the Stellar Group, told the company’s website, stellargroup.co.uk: “Our understanding was that the original agreement in place between Charlton Athletic and Chelsea merely allowed Charlton the first option on the player should Chelsea wish to loan him out again in season 2004/5, and that this option would be subject to Carlton agreeing to once again return to The Valley.
“Although Carlton enjoyed last season with the club and appreciated the efforts of everyone in making him feel welcome there, he never had any intention of returning to Charlton for this season.
“Therefore, there has been and will be no agreement between Carlton Cole and Charlton Athletic.
“Carlton has signed for Aston Villa for this season and is now concentrating all his energies on helping David O’Leary’s side over the next nine months, a challenge he is very much looking forward to.”
Cole, who scored five goals for Charlton last season, was made available for loan again this summer by Chelsea.
Charlton wanted him back for a second season and Varney suggested that the 20-year-old could rejoin them even after Villa’s announcement they had signed him.
Varney told the club’s official website, www.cafc.co.uk: “I am aware that our supporters are expecting to see Carlton Cole to return to the club on loan for 2004/5.
“The announcement by Aston Villa and Chelsea that they have agreed a year’s loan is premature.”
Cole however insists he is now fully committed to the Villa cause and claims he never really settled at Charlton.
He told the club’s official website, www.avfc.co.uk: “It wasn’t a convincing season for me. I was kind of rushed on loan and I never really did get settled in at Charlton. But now I’m just looking towards this year to progress.
“I’m still as hungry as ever and I feel sharper than I did at the start of last season, because I wasn’t 100% fit. I’ve been working over the summer and I’ve come into Villa this week feeling sharp and ready to prove myself.”