John Terry is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club as his Chelsea career appears set to end in dispute.
The Chelsea skipper on Sunday night revealed he would be leaving Stamford Bridge after the club opted not to renew his contract.
Terry said the incoming manager may be able to reverse the decision, while Chelsea suggested a contract offer could be forthcoming and “the channels of dialogue (remained) open”.
Yet in making the club’s stance public, Terry effectively issued a come-and-get-me-plea to the cash-rich clubs in Major League Soccer, China and elsewhere and it would now take a remarkable U-turn for him to stay at Stamford Bridge for a 19th season.
Terry, who says he intends to leave the Barclays Premier League, is already free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club and may do so before a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho is appointed.
Guus Hiddink, Chelsea interim boss following December’s sacking of Mourinho, will address the matter on Tuesday at a media conference ahead of the Premier League clash with Watford, but his caretaker capacity means he has little influence.
Kurt Zouma believes Terry is irreplaceable.
“I don’t know how John can be replaced,” Zouma told the Evening Standard.
“He is a legend and a very good leader. I have learnt a lot from him. I don’t know what to say, I am very surprised.”
Chelsea’s new manager will not be Pep Guardiola, after Manchester City announced the Bayern Munich boss will join them this summer.
Manuel Pellegrini, the incumbent at City, is the latest name to be linked with the vacancy at Stamford Bridge.
Terry joined Chelsea at the age of 14 and has made 696 appearances so far for the Blues and has won every major club honour since making his debut as a 17-year-old in October 1998.
Terry had been hoping to secure a 12-month extension in line with club policy for those aged over 30, but was informed by the club of their decision before last week’s win at Arsenal.
The decision is baffling to some as Branislav Ivanovic was recently given a one-year contract extension despite his poor form this season, while Gary Cahill signed a four-year deal prior to his 30th birthday despite being out of the starting XI at present.
England vice-captain Cahill is frustrated at his current status.
Cahill told chelseafc.com: “I signed a four-year contract a couple of months ago so that shows I want to be here.
“But ultimately, I feel like I need to play football matches.”
Chelsea reinforced their defensive options during the winter transfer window with the signing of 20-year-old United States defender Matt Miazga from New York Red Bulls, while forward Alexandre Pato signed on loan from Corinthians until the end of the season.
Pato provides back-up for Diego Costa, while Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao remain at Chelsea, for now.
Falcao, who is on loan from Monaco but has not played since October due to a thigh injury, was linked with a deadline day move to former club Atletico Madrid or Valencia.
There is one realistic remaining avenue for an exit for the Colombian as China’s transfer window does not close until February 26.
Meanwhile, midfielder Marco van Ginkel, who spent the first half of the season at Stoke, has moved to PSV Eindhoven on loan for the rest of the campaign.