Though West Ham are eager to give Cole an emotional return to Upton Park and Lille would be open to taking him back for another 12 months, the Liverpool midfielder is still holding out hope he will be able to rectify the one anomaly in his career.
"When I signed for Liverpool, it startled me a bit," said Cole, who was brought to Anfield by Roy Hodgson two years ago in a blaze of publicity. "I don't know if I felt the pressure but the city is so in love with football. It's a religion. If I go back, I will be more prepared for it this time.
"I can see why people say (joining Liverpool) is a culture shock. It is a small place but it has this great buzz. How can there not be in a city that has produced five Prime Ministers and The Beatles? The people are so sharp, quite a bit like Londoners really.
"There is still a part of me that would really love to make it work there and I don't want to have a bad spell at Anfield on my CV. But it is out of my hands now. At the minute I can't rule anything in or out. We have got to speak to Liverpool and see what happens there."