Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has confirmed that he and Chelsea skipper John Terry are ‘no longer close’, but still praised the 34-year-old for having a great season.
Ferdinand left Old Trafford last summer and signed for QPR, where he’s struggled to produce the sort of form that saw him recognised as one of the best centre-backs in the country. Terry meanwhile has remained a vital fixture of Chelsea’s side, and has attracted plaudits for his form during a campaign many would have expected him to show signs of falling foul of his ageing years.
The pair, who formed a solid partnership at the heart of the England defence, became embroiled in issues after Terry was caught up in a storm of controversy following a racial incident with Ferdinand’s younger brother, Anton.
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Now, whilst admitting that the incident has resulted in a breakdown of he and Terry’s relationship, Ferdinand was quick to praise his former teammate.
"It's no secret that me and John Terry are not the closest of mates," Ferdinand wrote in The Sun, as relayed by The Independent.
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"But just because we no longer get on does not mean I've lost my admiration for him as a footballer.
"His performances for Chelsea this season have been nothing short of outstanding and I'm not afraid to say it. John took the decision to retire from playing for England and had his reasons, but Chelsea are reaping the benefits.
"John is finding, as I did, that the upside of being off the international scene is that your body gets the rest it needs which allows you to keep performing at top-level well into your 30s.
"As I said, me and John are not pals but then again I didn't like a lot of things about Luis Suarez either, especially when he was biting people."
Whilst this campaign could be Ferdinand’s last as a high-level footballer - QPR are firmly in the relegation zone and his current deal expires this summer - Terry is set to continue marshalling Mourinho’s defensive contingent for the foreseeable future.
The ex-England captain recently penned another 12 month deal at Stamford Bridge, one that confirms he won’t follow in the footsteps of Frank Lampard in leaving the club during the summer transfer window, and if Mourinho’s frequent appraisals are anything to go by he’s very much an important asset to the team moving forward.
Indeed Terry’s experience and ability to link up with those around him has counteracted the fact that his pace will have naturally declined with age, and on this season’s form he’s still up there with the most solid centre-backs in European football.
Replacing the best
That said Mourinho will have one eye on the future, and it’s high time Chelsea start to plan for such a time when Terry either calls time on his career or experiences a sharp dip in his ability to control matters around him.
The young Kurt Zouma looks to be an ideal fit based on the evidence from this campaign, although rumours persist in suggesting Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane is the man Mourinho sees as Terry’s eventual successor.
The two French starlets could form a formidable partnership moving forward, but of course Chelsea would have to prise Real’s defensive gem from a club unwilling to do business.
Chelsea fans, how would you rate Terry’s season in a Blues shirt? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
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