John Terry is ready to consider lucrative playing offers in China and America, as well as Europe, after Chelsea announced that their most successful ever captain would be leaving at the end of the season.
Terry has helped inspire Chelsea to 14 major trophies, including the Champions League and four Premier League titles during his 19 first-team seasons at the club, but has made just 10 appearances this season under Antonio Conte.
A future offer to return to Chelsea in a non-playing capacity has already been outlined but, at the age now of 36, Terry wants to seek a new on-field challenge. Terry had signed series of one-year contracts over recent seasons but had to wait until May last year before being offered a new deal and has made it clear that he has now taken the decision to leave.
There has already been strong interest from Shanghai Shenhua, where his former team-mate Gus Poyet is the head coach, but Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion were also interested in taking him on loan during the January transfer window.
Everybody at Stamford Bridge would like to express our enormous gratitude to John and wish him the very best of luck for the future. pic.twitter.com/Yo9NrXNBMs— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) 17 April 2017
However, sources have told Telegraph Sport that Terry could earn as much as £20 million in a single season in China, where he famously visited Guangzhou in the summer of 2015 as part of what was called the ‘JT Captain China Tour’.
Major League Soccer, where Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham have all ended their careers, will be another consideration and there is also interest in Turkey. Terry’s departure is hugely symbolic and represents the end of an era at Chelsea, where he has been the dominant dressing-room figure throughout the entire Roman Abramovich period. He is third on the club’s all-time appearance list with 713 games and has also captained Chelsea a record 578 times.
“After 22 years there is so much to say and so many people to thank at this great football club,” said Terry. “I will decide on my future in due course, but for now I am committed to helping the team achieve success this season. The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days. We had some really positive talks but with everything taken into careful consideration I have decided it's the right time for me to leave.
“I’ve always been conscious that I depart at the right time, in the right way, and I feel that the end of this season is the right time. I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me. I’m eager to carry on playing and so will be looking to continue with a new challenge. I will of course always be a Blue and am desperate to end my final season as a Chelsea player with more silverware.
"Finally, words cannot describe the love I have for our football club and our amazing Chelsea fans. I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for the unbelievable support you've shown me over the years. You mean the world to me and every trophy we've won during my time at the club we've won together. I will never forget the incredible journey we've been on.”
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “He has been an outstanding player, inspirational captain and has always demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the cause.
"In that time, Chelsea has grown into one of the world’s top clubs. He will always be held in the highest regard by everybody at Stamford Bridge and we look forward to welcoming him back in the future.” The Chelsea statement added that “both the club and John look ahead to the possibility of him returning to us in a non-playing capacity, when he will be able to share his unparalleled experience with players, staff and fans alike”.