There can be little doubting that John Terry has taken a risk in agreeing to one last season at Stamford Bridge. In the views of many, the one-year contract is simply fan service and potentially one season too many.
While the Chelsea captain’s legacy will never truly be damaged, it would be sad to see him leave west London with a whimper.
However, this could be exactly what the 35-year-old faces in light of Antonio Conte’s arrival. It could be a final year of frustration and neglect as opposed to the fairytale finish he craves.
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Despite it being strongly believed that Terry would be forced out of Chelsea this season, the Blues pulled off a shock U-turn.
There was initial indecision on the Englishman’s part, but by May he had secured another year at the club he had represented since 1998.
The decision has been met with great skepticism though. After the dizzying heights of 2014-15, the skipper endured a stagnant season as Chelsea slumped to a tenth place finish. It’s certainly suggestive that Terry is on the wane.
Moreover, it’s been proposed that the U-turn was simply to keep the fans onside after a frustrating 12 months. It certainly leaves Conte with a unique dilemma with the 35-year-old’s role in his plans questionable.
Chelsea are desperate for a return to success and there is outrageous pressure on Conte to at least deliver Champions League football. It means the Italian will be forced to throw the kitchen sink at what proves an uncertain campaign.
Consequently, it’s highly likely that Terry will suffer a dramatic decline in game time during 2016-17.
While the skipper will still play a crucial role, he is the antithesis of Conte’s famous ‘intense’ football philosophy. It’s doubtful that the ex-Juventus boss will want a jaded 35-year-old at the heart of one of his teams.
After all, Terry can no longer be the fast and furious defender he once used to be.
The pacey Kurt Zouma and gung ho Gary Cahill suit Conte’s system far more and will likely be his starting partnership. That is in fact, of course, neglecting the possibility that the Italian could bring in Leonardo Bonucci also.
Subsequently, Terry tumbles down the pecking order very quickly. In the latter years of his career, the Englishman’s form has lacked consistency.
Across 38 games of a draining Premier League season, Conte will want someone who can perform regularly and take the strain, it’s unlikely Terry can meet this demand anymore.
For all the aforementioned reasons, albeit signing a new contract, Terry could face a disheartening season on the bench. Given Conte’s style and the pressure he’s under, turning to Terry is a risk he can’t afford to take.
It all amounts to a sad ending to an incredible Chelsea career for the 35-year-old. Unfortunately that fresh one-year contract may not be the attractive addition it appeared to be.
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