Chelsea captain John Terry is mulling over the offer of a one-year contract extension which includes “a different role” with the club.
His current deal expires on June 30 and it is by no means certain Terry will extend his stay at Stamford Bridge.
He met Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia and chairman Bruce Buck on Wednesday, with the offer tabled.
The former England skipper was close to tears when receiving his Special Recognition award at the clubs’ annual awards dinner at Stamford Bridge on Friday night in recognition of reaching 700 appearances for Chelsea this season.
Terry was clearly moved as tributes were made by a host of ex-Chelsea players, while Frank Lampard, now with New York City, hailed his former team-mate in his own tribute sent from the United States as one of the all-time best English defenders.
“Seven hundred games, what an achievement,” said Lampard.
“For me it goes down as the greatest record, appearance-wise, by a Chelsea player.
“No disrespect to Ron Harris, who has the numbers record, I think in an era today where athletically and what the body can take, to play 700 games.
“Not only that, but to play in a team where competition was great for so many years, a team at the top of the (Premier) League and fighting in the Champions League, his consistency levels have put him out ahead of every defender in the Premier League era.
“John is the greatest Premier League defender without a doubt and one of the greatest English defenders there has ever been.”
Terry believes he can play on for one or two more years at the top level, but hinted that he would have to accept a reduced role next season under incoming head coach Antonio Conte. There is also a possibility the new role includes some coaching.
Terry wrote on Instagram: “Thanks to everyone for the kind wishes.
“The contract extension the club has offered me is a different role and I hope everyone will understand I want to take the time to consider it carefully before making a decision.”
Should Terry decline the offer, it is likely he will have lucrative opportunities to contemplate in China, the Middle East and, possibly, Europe, now there is no chance Chelsea will be in opposition next season.
It is the third time Chelsea have offered the 35-year-old defender a new 12-month deal, the club policy for players aged over 30, and it is likely the terms of the deal are reduced.Terry has made 703 appearances since his debut in October 1998.
He is suspended for Sunday’s clash with Premier League champions Leicester and could yet have made his final appearance.
He joined Chelsea aged 14, but said he would not be extending his stay following the FA Cup win at MK Dons on January 31.
“It’s not going to be a fairytale ending, I’m not going to retire at Chelsea,” Terry, who has won every major club honour with the Blues, said after the fourth-round win.
“I feel as though I’m in great nick. I’ve got a couple of years to go. It’ll just be elsewhere.”
Chelsea always insisted an offer may be forthcoming and Terry subsequently expressed hope of a resolution and extending his stay at Stamford Bridge.
A Chelsea spokesperson said on Friday: “Marina Granovskaia and Bruce Buck met with John and his agent this week and offered him a one-year contract extension.
“With it coming so late in the season, this is a big decision for John and his family and it is something that they are now considering.”
Chelsea, who can finish ninth in the Premier League at best, play Leicester, their successors as champions, on Sunday, with Terry completing a two-match ban following his dismissal at Sunderland.
Supporters were planning to voice their displeasure at the uncertainty over Terry, but now an offer has been made by the club, the fans will likely serenade him, pulling on his heart strings.
Chelsea sought to draw a line on the matter with the statement, allowing Terry to consider the offer and interim boss Guus Hiddink, who also received a Special Recognition award, to focus on his final media conference ahead of the last game of his second caretaker spell.
Conte will arrive at the conclusion of Italy’s involvement in this summer’s European Championships.
“It’s good to have big players in a club who are big personalities,” Hiddink said.
Hiddink recently saw a photograph of a teenage Terry and lauded his longevity.
“Twenty, 21 years at the club is huge,” Hiddink added.
“That’s why they become legends. You must cherish those legends for the future as well.”
Willian won both player of the year and players’ player of the year awards, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was named young player of the year and Katie Chapman won Chelsea Ladies player of the year.