John Terry announcement is 'incredibly strange timing', claims Gary Neville as he asks does it help Chelsea title challenge

Confirmation that Terry will leave at the end of the season came a day after Chelsea were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United and former manager Jose Mourinho

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The Independent Football

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have questioned the timing of former England teammate John Terry’s announcement that he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season given it could further destabilise their Premier League title challenge.

After an impeccable debut season under Antonio Conte, Chelsea have been rocked in recent weeks, with the 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace earlier this month compounded by Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Manchester United that had cut their advantage over second-placed Tottenham to just four points, with six matches left to play each.

Having spent 22 years with Chelsea after joining the club’s academy in 1995, 36-year-old Terry will leave the club in the summer when his contract expires, with the former England captain insisting that he believes he can prolong his playing career away from Stamford Bridge.

However, it’s that reason that Neville believes that Monday’s announcement may be due to the fact that Terry has already agreed to join another club on a pre-contract, and that Chelsea’s hand was forced because they were afraid it would not be kept quiet any longer, which would have reflected badly on the club for not being the ones who made the announcement.

"The news of Terry leaving is incredibly strange timing, I don't get it at all," Neville told Sky Sports' Monday Night Football.

"I'm not really sure who it suits, maybe John Terry a little bit, but I'm not even sure about that.

"It may be a distraction for the dressing room, the club and the fans will be sad today especially after the big game they lost yesterday. Maybe he's signed a pre-agreement with somebody and they couldn't keep it quiet any longer."

Both Neville and Carragher also considered a possible recall for Terry to Chelsea’s first team, given their defensive trio of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta has been disrupted by the absence of Marcos Alonso and the return to fitness of Kurt Zouma.

It led the two pundits to suggest that Terry’s experience will be crucial in seeing Chelsea hold on to their advantage and win a second title in three years, following the success under Jose Mourinho in 2014/15.

"They haven't kept a clean sheet for quite a bit now and I think he could be quite useful for them,” Neville said.

"If they needed someone with experience in this last month to get them over the line, he might be the man they need to call on.

"He's got the experience, the resilience, the robustness and that toughness which would get his team-mates over line. He may be Chelsea's most important player in the next few weeks."

Carragher added: “It could be a time for his actual experience, that you need there, that leadership because it's something that they lacked [on Sunday]. They weren't there normal selves.

“With John Terry I still think he has a lot offer as a player in the Premier League.”

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Jamie Carragher believes Terry can still help Chelsea to win the title (Sky Sports)

The decision to leave the club sees the option for Terry to join a Premier League rival arise if he wants to remain in England, although it is expected that he will also receive offers from abroad with China a possible destination.

Yet Carragher was reluctant to credit Terry with being a “one-club man” due to an early loan spell in his career, while his impending transfer will also ruin that reputation that left Carragher saddened.

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Terry announced that he is leaving Chelsea with the club leading the Premier League by four points (Getty)

“I'm not sure he's a one-club man, I think he went on loan to Nottingham Forest but you associate him as a one-club man really,” said Carragher, who saw fellow Liverpool great Steven Gerrard leave Liverpool to head to the MLS by joining LA Galaxy before retiring last year.

“I think it's sad when a player of that stature at a club put a shirt for someone else.”

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