John Terry announced on Monday that he will be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season.
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The banner at Stamford Bridge which simply reads “captain, leader, legend” sums up Terry’s importance, and legacy, at the west London club.
Terry, 36, has won 14 major titles at Chelsea, 13 of them as captain, and the central defender has been one of the most consistent and talented defenders in world soccer over the past 15 years.
All good things must come to an end, though, and with Terry playing just five times in the Premier League this season and not used by Antonio Conte in Chelsea’s defeat at Manchester United on Sunday (Kurt Zouma was instead brought in when Marcos Alonso‘s illness caused a reshuffle) the writing has been on the wall for a while.
The timing of the announcement is a little bizarre, especially given that defeat to United which cut Chelsea’s lead atop the PL table to four points, and it makes you wonder if Terry is putting clubs on red alert for the summer so they can plan ahead to bring him in. Terry will still have a pivotal role in pushing Chelsea towards the PL title in the final weeks of the season, be it on the pitch or from the bench, but it’s obvious Conte believes it is best that the Englishman moves on.
Remember, it looked like Terry was leaving at the end of last season but he and the club eventually signed a one-year extension so he could play for a 19th season at Chelsea. That won’t happen again and the Chelsea legend will now move on to continue his playing career as he said he was “eager to carry on playing” and confirmed he’s looking at “new challenges” elsewhere. As a free agent he is a very attractive proposition, even if his wage demands will be over $100,000 per week.
He still has plenty to offer, with Terry playing in every single second of Chelsea’s 2014-15 title-winning season and although injuries hampered him last season he still made 33 appearances in all competitions.
Major League Soccer seems like the front-runner for Terry with LA Galaxy, the new LAFC franchise, plus Portland Timbers, Atlanta United, NYCFC, Minnesota United and others all linked with a move for the legendary defender. There’s no doubting Terry’s quality and unlike most DP defenders he’d sell jerseys and surely have a big impact if he did head to North America’s top-flight. Maybe he could end up in Phoenix with his good pal Didier Drogba in the USL? Who knows…
His other options appear to be staying in the Premier League or heading to the Chinese Super League.
We hear this every time a Premier League veteran is linked with a move to the Chinese Super League but Terry has a young family and staying in England or heading to MLS would seem like the most preferable option for him on a personal level. In the PL plenty of clubs could do with Terry and it seems like he has at least another two years left in the tank.
His boyhood club West Ham United have been rumored to be interested in him, while West Brom had previously voiced an interest in Terry. Would he play for a top six club in the PL next season? Probably not. Yet the likes of Everton, West Brom or West Ham would give him the opportunity to prove he can play in the top-flight for another few seasons before maybe calling it quits or indeed heading to MLS or China for one final, final swansong.
At the moment imagining Terry in anything other than a Chelsea shirt seems bizarre. Even the old footage of him in a Nottingham Forest shirt while he was there on loan there in 1999 doesn’t look right.
Mr. Chelsea is moving on and Terry will have a huge number of offers on the table.