The shock terms of Chelsea's contract offer which has left John Terry torn on his future
It looked like a tearful farewell for John Terry on Sunday, but could there be a slim hope he will remain at Stamford Bridge? That's up to the Blues captain, writes Dan Levene...
According to those who know him well, John Terry is at this moment torn on whether or not to walk out on Chelsea.
Terry himself has revealed that a contract offer, dramatically and publicly tabled by Chelsea on Friday afternoon, contains a “different role” for the defender and club legend. But the extent of just how different that role will be may shock many fans, with the understanding being Terry has been told that even if he does sign, then he will get very little playing time.
But, as he himself told supporters following Sunday's final-day draw with Leicester, Terry still wants to end his career with Chelsea. Barely holding back the tears, and interspersed by chants of his name and “we want you to stay” Terry said: “We all want the same thing.
“I've said for a very long time I want to be here for the rest of my career. I want to finish my career here. We'll have a few days, and we'll be speaking to the club. Listen, I want to stay. The club knows that, the fans know that.”
The “we” he talked about clearly refers to Terry and his agent, Paul Nicholls of Elite Management.
Terry was significantly seen to leave Stamford Bridge side by side with Nicholls on Sunday evening – and sources confirmed Guus Hiddink's post-match public pronouncement that channels of communication between player and club were at least now open.
John Terry salutes the crowdAFP
Terry is said to be legitimately torn between staying and moving on for a new life and a two-year deal in China. But the difference between what is on offer there, and the contract served up to him by Chelsea is stark.
He is expected to be able to double his present money, from £150k to £300k a week, should he go to Beijing or Shanghai. He has made several trips out to China, and is believed to be in quite advanced stages of negotiations over a deal that would make him a household name in the world's most populous country.
It is a deal that involves the resettlement of his family, plus more or less as many flights home as he might like in order to maintain his link with the UK.
Compare that with the Chelsea offer, which would mean a cut in pay to something like £60k a week – a fifth of his potential earnings in the Chinese Premier League.
As well as the money, though, Terry has a strong belief that at the age of 35 he still has much to offer on the pitch.
Even in his admittedly declining state, he could probably hold down any position from one to 11 in any Chinese Premier League Club – as opposed to the extremely limited playing time which seems on offer at Chelsea.
Chelsea's John Terry waves to fans during a lap of honour after the gameReuters
In Asia, there would also be the possibility of progression to management, while it seems unlikely the latest Chelsea deal includes any prospect of a formalised training ground role.
Those close to him say Terry insists he can prove wrong those at Chelsea who have written off his playing career. He still thinks of himself as a first-team regular. But there seems little prospect the deal will be signed in its present form.
Chelsea seem to know this – indeed they appear to have been fully aware of it when they went public with the deal on Friday afternoon. So what chance of a thawing of relations?
If you're looking for a sign, then the cancellation of Terry's 'final' kick-about with mates at Stamford Bridge, booked for today (Monday) at the cost of £22k (waived by Chelsea) has been cancelled by the defender.
Could a massive turnaround in what had appeared inevitable be about to happen?
That would require a very major shift from both camps – though with Terry's existing contract set to run until June 30, there is a bit of time left, with no actual football to get in the way of matters.
The biggest issue, however, may be this: whatever Chelsea’s offer, it will not touch the proposed Chinese deal and it is unlikely to come close even to Terry's existing Chelsea contract.
Given that, it is difficult to know for just how long Terry will remain torn over his future.