Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole welcomes the new challenge in ItalyReuters

Former Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole has joined Roma on a free transfer after successfully undergoing a medical at the Italian club.

The 33-year-old defender has penned a two-year contract, with an option for a third, with the Serie A side.

"AS Roma SpA announce that a two-year contract, with an expiry of 20 June 2016, has been signed with the footballer Ashley Cole. The agreement also includes the option, on the part of the club, to extend the contract by a further season," read a statement in the club's official website.

Cole, who made very limited appearances for the Blues last season, with manager Jose Mourinho César Azpilicueta in the left-back position, was released by the West London club earlier this summer along with the likes of Frank Lampard and Samuel Eto'o.

Earlier there were speculations that Cole, who announced his retirement from international football after being left out of England's World Cup squad by manager Roy Hodgson, had been offered a lucrative two-year deal worth £10 million by European champions Real Madrid.

However, the former Arsenal man, who was also believed to be targeted by a hosts of other clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Monaco, has opted to join Roma.

"Will never forget my time in England was a pleasure, but now onto a new challenge," Cole posted on Twitter.

Cole, who has made 229 Premier League appearances for Chelsea after joining from Arsenal in 2006, enjoyed a lot of success with the Blues including the Premier League title in the 2009/10 season, the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013.

Meanwhile Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku says that he is tired of being loaned out every season by Chelsea, and wants to permanently join a club who can offer him Champions League football.

The 21-year-old Belgian, who was transferred from Anderlecht to Chelsea for a reported transfer fee of £17 million in the summer of 2011, has hardly made any appearances for the Blues, spending the last two seasons on loan at West Bromwich Albion (2012/13) and Everton (2013/14)

However, this season he insists that he doesn't want to be loaned.

"What I don't want is to be loaned out. I am 21 and I have been loaned for the last two seasons. 

There are speculations that the Belgian has attracted interests from many clubs - Atletico Madrid, Juventus or Monaco – following his performances in the World Cup.

However, on being asked of his possible destinations after Chelsea, the striker replied:"I don't know - there are several clubs that are interested. The decision will soon be taken. I have some ideas but we will have to see what is best for the clubs. I don't want to negotiate before the clubs have come to an agreement."