Galatasaray are to test John Terry's resolve to remain at Chelsea after the Turkish champions indicated they would be prepared to match the defender's salary, and offer him regular first-team football, as they prepare a formal bid for his services.
Terry, whose season has been interrupted by injuries and suspension, has effectively found himself relegated to third or fourth choice at Stamford Bridge under Rafael Benítez's interim management and, having already sat out the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, he is expected to begin next week's Europa League final against Benfica back on the bench. The 32-year-old is entering the final year of his £160,000-a-week contract with no talks having taken place, as yet, over a 12-month extension.
The former England captain expressed a desire to remain at the club last month and indicated there could be discussions over his future in the summer, when Chelsea are likely to be back under the stewardship of José Mourinho. The Portuguese may seek to prolong Terry's stay, not least for stability's sake, having worked with him during his first spell at the club and the player's instinct has always been to stay. But Galatasaray's interest, confirmed by the chairman Unal Aysal to Terry's camp, has at least offered the centre-half an alternative option as he approaches those summer talks.
Galatasaray reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League this season and have thrown considerable funding at squad strengthening in recent times, having secured Welsey Sneijder from Internazionale and Didier Drogba, from Shanghai Shenhua, in January. They would be prepared to pay up to £8m for Terry's services.
Another Istanbul club, the defeated Europa League semi-finalists Fenerbahce, are also monitoring his situation with the player having already publicly stated that he could not play for another English club if he ever left Chelsea. "You understand you can't be around forever," he said last month. "Where I would go after that, it certainly wouldn't be in England. I couldn't do that to Chelsea or the fans."
Terry is expected to start at Aston Villa on Saturday as Chelsea seek a victory that will effectively secure Champions League football next season given their superior goal difference over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. Benítez has confirmed Frank Lampard will also start – the midfielder is also expected to be retained next season should Mourinho depart from Real Madrid and return to London – with the Spaniard hopeful his primary objective of a top four finish can be achieved. "We'll try to finish it at Villa so we can then concentrate on the [Europa League] final," he said. "We have to win one game. It would be easier if we did that against Villa. If not, we'll have another chance [against Everton]. We are in a very good position."
The Spaniard's contribution in a campaign that stretches into its 67th fixture at Villa Park has drawn praise from César Azpilicueta, whose first season in English football since last summer's switch from Marseille has proved an eye opener. "Rafa did a good job here," said the full-back of his compatriot. "He gave me a lot of confidence and I've learned a lot of things from him: positioning, tactics, reading the game, the best way to do the right things. I've also played my first game with the national team since he came in, which was important for me. He has been here seven months trying to do his best and, after that, life continues. The club makes the decision about a new manager but, if we go on to win trophies, hopefully we will have the same manager for years."
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image: © Peter Smith