Over 700 appearances and with domestic honours well into double figures, John Terry is a Chelsea legend.
Legendary status takes not only a high level of consistency in terms of performance, but critically takes time and at the age of thirty-five, Terry, a one-club man, is entering the winter of his career, or, so it seems the end of his Chelsea career.
A turbulent 2015/16 season for Chelsea has led to an underwhelming league position and a change in management. Guus Hiddink was drafted in once again following the departure of his long-time ally Jose Mourinho.
With the incoming manager, Antonio Conte arriving at Stamford Bridge this summer it remains to be seen whether or not Terry will have a contract offer to remain at Chelsea beyond this season.
Back in January Terry himself confirmed that a contract was not forthcoming and would be leaving at the end of the season and therefore the ‘fairytale’ retirement he was looking for at Chelsea was not going to be and will look to continue his playing career elsewhere.
The club themselves stated that although there was no offer at that time the situation could change in the future. This was undoubtedly the result of the change in management and at that time, Conte was not confirmed as their new manager.
Additionally, this could be viewed as not so subtle PR exercise from the Terry camp, serving as a little message to Roman Abramovic and the board, reminding them of his status within the team and his popularity amongst the fans – that’s if they needed any reminding.
Conte is understood to want to retain the services of the club captain and officials within Chelsea were shocked when Terry verbalised the reluctance of the board to extend his contract and that has only resulted in speculation into his future continuing through the remainder of the season with many suggesting that there should be no reason why he shouldn’t remain at Chelsea.
His form certainly suggests that he still has plenty to offer, with the exception of the few occasions where he had been left out of the team he seems to be something of the proverbial eternal cockroach in a nuclear attack and refuses to disappear.
Chelsea’s defensive problems this season could offer another explanation as to why Terry is still going strong, with Cahill and the currently injured Zouma the only other options, they have been left with limited choices in the heart of the defence to partner the Chelsea captain.
The man himself believes that he still has plenty to offer and interim boss Hiddink agrees admitting that they have struggled without him when he has been injured despite their form since Mourinho’s departure improving.
It is not only Terry’s influence as a player that have to be taken into account, his knowledge and experience are invaluable. That sort of one-man club scenario is very rare in modern day football and it appears the likes of Terry are a dying breed, with most footballers not interested in loyalty and more interested in chasing the number of zero’s on their latest contract.
His leadership qualities are also irreplaceable in a summer transfer window and with an obvious lack of leaders at Chelsea in the current squad surely they would be foolish to lose a player with such a connection and inimitable never say die attitude to the cause.
All of his qualities have made him an icon and a true fan favourite, in their words, he is their captain, leader and legend. It goes without saying that he can’t go on forever but, keeping Terry within the club is surely more beneficial than letting him go. Even if he doesn’t play every game, his influence on the players in the dressing room and youth system has to be considered, incoming marquee signings could also benefit from the man that is the embodiment of Chelsea football club.
These factors haven’t stopped Chelsea letting club legends leave in the past with the likes of Lampard and Cech being allowed to continue their careers at other clubs and rival clubs too.
So why should it be any different in the case of John Terry?
Sentiment is not an emotion felt by those that are making the decisions at boardroom level and the fact that he has served Chelsea for so long and achieved so much will be lost on the suit wearing businessmen. That being said, no player should expect anything and especially at the age of thirty-five chances of long term deals are going to be limited.
Age alone should not be the defining factor in the continuation of his career and shouldn’t bee looked at in such black and white terms. A global approach should be considered, taking into account length of service, the level of achievement, sacrifice, commitment and form are just the tip of the iceberg.
Why shouldn’t he be allowed to retire at the club he loves?
There has no doubt been times during his career that he has been targeted by the best clubs in world football but he has remained loyal. Money can’t be the issue in this instance from either party, a millionaire footballer and a club owned by a Russian billionaire aren’t going to quibble over a couple more seasons especially when Chelsea, as a club is in a period of transition and signings, which will be made this summer in an attempt to boost the current playing squad.
Chelsea fans will want their talismanic captain to stay and not see another club legend leave for pastures new. Sentiments aside, John Terry the player should end a glittering career at the club he has given so much for.