John Terry hires Stamford Bridge to stage his own Chelsea farewell

By Matt Law

John Terry. Photo / AP
John Terry. Photo / AP

John Terry will play in a final farewell game at Stamford Bridge, despite missing Chelsea's last two games of the season through suspension.

Captain Terry is convinced he has played his final competitive game for the Blues, following his sending-off at Sunderland, and has told friends he is considering a lucrative offer from China.

But Terry will still play on the Stamford Bridge turf for one last time after hiring the stadium for a specially arranged match with his closest friends next Monday (Tuesday NZT) - the day after Chelsea's final game of the season against Leicester City.

Hiring Stamford Bridge for a game usually costs £22,000 (NZ$47,000), but Chelsea have agreed to give Terry the club's stadium for free as part of a series of gestures that will be made to the 35-year-old.

Together with being able to play on the pitch, the Stamford Bridge package that Terry has taken up for his big goodbye includes dressing rooms, match officials, use of the dug-outs, access to stadium screens and public address system, and a barbecue.

Despite his Premier League ban, Terry's team-mates are also planning to send the central defender off in style at an end-of-season bash at the Under the Bridge nightclub, which is on the site of Stamford Bridge, following the Leicester clash.

Chelsea are yet to confirm that Terry will be allowed to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season, but an announcement on his future could be made ahead of Sunday's game against Premier League champions Leicester. Despite the fact he will not be able to play in the game, Terry will take part in a post-match lap of appreciation and will be treated to a farewell tribute from the Blues fans.

The club hold their annual end-of-season awards ceremony on Friday night, where Terry is expected to receive tributes from a host of his former team-mates and managers who were approached by Chelsea to given written and video messages. Terry is yet to make a decision on where he will play next season, but has told friends that he has a firm proposal from a Chinese Super League club.

Moving to the Far East would be Terry's most lucrative option with sources claiming he could earn up to £20million by moving to China. Jiangsu Suning, who signed Ramires from Chelsea in January, are understood to be one of the interested clubs.

Terry already has strong links in China, having embarked on a one-man promotional tour in the country last summer and travelled to Shanghai as part of a Chelsea coaching course in March.

There is also interest in Terry from Qatar, where ex-Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola manages at Al Arabi, but any move to America's Major League Soccer would involve the former England captain having to take a huge wage cut.

Sources in America claim that no MLS clubs have currently indicated a willingness to sign the central defender on 'designated player' status.

It means Terry, who has been paid over £100,000-a-week at Chelsea, could only earn around £5,000-a-week in America because of the MLS wage cap structure.

Each MLS club is allowed to sign up to three 'designated players' who fall outside the wage cap, such as former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard who earns about £4m-a-year at New York City.

Terry has been keen on the idea of following Lampard to America, but MLS clubs only hand out their highly-paid designated player spots to forwards or midfielders.

Defenders rarely fall into that category and Ashley Cole took a huge wage cut to move to LA Galaxy on non-designated player status because the club have Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos as their highest earners.

Ex-Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is at Montreal Impact, while David Villa and Andrea Pirlo are in New York with Lampard.

There are a few exceptions, such as Liam Ridgewell at Portland Timbers but the former Aston Villa defender earns around £15,000-a-week - much less than the attackers and midfielders on designated player status.

With Terry's Chelsea career seemingly finished, incoming manager Antonio Conte wants to sign at least one new central defender this summer, while 18-year-old Jake Clarke-Salter is likely to be the club's fourth choice option in the position behind a new man, Kurt Zouma and Gary Cahill next season.

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, Everton's John Stones and Roma's Kostas Manolas have all been identified as potential replacements for Terry at Chelsea.

Terry was in Denmark on Monday night to watch Brondby IF, who are owned by his close friend Jan Bech Andersen. He has been linked with a coaching post with the club, but reiterated his desire to keep playing in an interview with Brondby's in-house TV station.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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