Guus Hiddink has admitted he was surprised by John Terry’s decision to announce he expects to leave Chelsea when his contract expires this summer, and has reiterated the club’s stance that dialogue with their captain will remain open over a potential new deal.
Terry will start Wednesday’s awkward Premier League game at Watford, making his 697th appearance for the club in the process, having revealed on Sunday that, at present, the club are not offering him terms to extend his stay into a 19th senior campaign. The 35-year-old, who arrived at Chelsea as a 14-year-old, expects to be playing his football elsewhere next term, with the prospect of a lucrative move to China, the Middle East or, possibly, Major League Soccer likely to be explored.
The club’s hierarchy, who had discussed the situation with Terry and his agent before the recent win at Arsenal, were surprised by the player’s decision to make public that there would be “no fairytale ending” to his career at Stamford Bridge. Hiddink said: “It was a bit surprising, but he’s entitled to do what he did. I like John very much, the way he’s playing and that he’s committed to the team, and will continue to be like that. We’ve had conversations in the last few days about all kinds of things in football, and I know he will continue playing at the level he has been.
“John is entitled to make up his mind, that’s true, given his contract expires at the end of the season. But, on the other hand, the club still want to have the dialogue and to have an open door still. No specific decision was made yet [by Chelsea]. You have to see what’s coming up with the transition of the new manager as well. So the door is not shut and dialogue is always possible.”
Asked about Terry’s recent performances, with Chelsea now having gone nine matches unbeaten in all competitions since José Mourinho was sacked in December, Hiddink added: “He’s very fit. He’s not what you normally see in a 35-year-old player, when you feel you are getting a bit slower and cannot accept you’re in a danger zone for red cards etc. But there’s none of that with John. He is fit and performing well, as he has been while I’ve been here. And he will carry on doing so. We’ve spoken about that, and he will be very professional but also work hard as well.”
The Dutchman dismissed suggestions of inconsistency in club policy, whereby the hierarchy apparently want to discuss Terry’s future with their eventual choice of new manager in the summer but have already signed the young centre-back Matt Miazga from New York Red Bulls and signed Branislav Ivanovic up to a new 12-month deal. “You have to see every issue in this as an individual case,” Hiddink said. “John is one of the key players: he has been one of the key players, and is still.”
Miazga will not be considered for selection in the squad for the game at Vicarage Road, and it is unlikelyAlexandre Pato – who has received his international clearance following his loan move from Corinthians – will be included as the Brazilian seeks to prove his match fitness, having last featured in a competitive match in November, while on loan at São Paulo. Loïc Rémy is still absent with a calf injury and Willian will require a late check on a foot problem.