Jose Mourinho may see his captain's loyalty as the ideal bargaining chip, but the Chelsea hierarchy are absolutely confident that John Terry will sign his new contract at the club regardless of who is manager next season. Terry's new deal is not likely to be completed in the next few days, but the England captain has shown no signs that he is interested in a move away from Stamford Bridge.
Sources at Chelsea have indicated that Mourinho's insistence on Tuesday night that Terry had consulted him over his long-term plans would have no bearing on the player's decision to stay. While Terry would naturally have been curious as to what Mourinho was likely to do this summer, whether the Portuguese coach, who turns 44 tomorrow, stays or goes will not ultimately influence his decision.
The 26-year-old has a close relationship with the club's owner, Roman Abramovich, who will consult his captain on potential signings, and Terry is more at liberty than any other player to "name his price" when it comes to the new deal he is expected to conclude before the end of the season. Although suggestions that he could earn as much as £150,000 a month seem wide of the mark, Terry will certainly eclipse Andrei Shevchenko and Michael Ballack as the top earners at the club.
Terry's existing deal, like Frank Lampard's, ends in 2009 and both are expected to be made an offer in the next few months to commit themselves to Chelsea effectively for life. Lampard's next move is less certain. He has expressed an interest in playing abroad in the past and Mourinho's departure could play a role in his thinking, but there is no doubt that Terry intends to finish his playing days at Stamford Bridge.
Of more concern at the club is how Mourinho was prepared to drag Terry into the debate about whether he will stay beyond the summer. The Independent revealed yesterday that a high-placed source at the club had disclosed that Mourinho would leave after this season; he is certainly determined to show the club's owner that he has the support of his players.
Mourinho said in the aftermath of the Carling Cup semi-final second-leg victory over Wycombe Wanderers that Terry had told him it would be "very difficult to play with another manager is his career", in a clear attempt to state his own importance to Abramovich. It would take the Russian billionaire only one phone call to gauge the real truth of that statement and Terry, it is understood, would choose Chelsea and Abramovich over Mourinho without hesitation.
On the day that he signed for Lyon, Milan Baros has revealed that Mourinho spoke to him in person about the possibility of joining Chelsea this month, but that the move broke down because Shaun Wright-Phillips refused to join Aston Villa in exchange. The conversation took place after Chelsea drew 0-0 at Villa Park on 2 January when Mourinho believed that negotiations had virtually been completed.
"It was practically a finished thing with Chelsea. Everything broke down over the fact that Wright-Phillips did not want to go to Aston Villa," Baros said. "Martin O'Neill told me that without a replacement he would not let me go. We just spoke about the match. Just after the game in the tunnel he told me that he wanted me to join the team and asked me if I was interested. I told him so. But it did not happen in the end."
Baros, 25, has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the French champions managed by Gérard Houllier, who signed him at Liverpool. "I do not want to make excuses, Aston Villa was not a good contract for me and I am glad it is over," he said.