John Terry will come closer today to deciding whether he wants his future to be at Chelsea when he meets with members of the club's hierarchy for the first time since Manchester City's £30m bid for the defender was rejected. The nature of the talks will be crucial to whether the player commits to the club or asks for permission to talk to City.
The talk of Terry staying from the new manager Carlo Ancelotti and the chief executive Peter Kenyon has been nothing more than the club stating their public position. Ancelotti has not spoken to Terry since City's interest was made public and neither Kenyon nor the chairman Bruce Buck have the authority to sanction a new, improved contract to match City's pay offer of £150,000- to £200,000-a-week plus bonuses.
Instead it will be the main men at the club – the owner Roman Abramovich and his boardroom lieutenant Eugene Tenenbaum – who can give those answers, although it is not clear who will be present at Chelsea's Cobham training ground today. Ancelotti will have his full squad back in training with Terry in attendance for the first time since the end of last season.
The way in which Terry regards his future at Chelsea will reflect which direction he feels the club are going. The England captain's restlessness is not just about the money on offer from City – although that undoubtedly plays a part – but also the ambition that Abramovich is prepared to show in buying the kind of players who can seriously challenge again for the Premier League and Champions League.
Terry's appeal after the FA Cup final in May that Chelsea buy David Villa and Franck Ribéry was not just a flip post-match comment but a firmly-held belief that the club need to compete for the best players in the transfer market. Terry is understood to be doubtful about the potential of a club that have not come close to competing with City this summer, much less Real Madrid, in the acquisition of new players.
Only Abramovich and his closest aides can answer those questions at Chelsea although the club's stance has not changed: on principle they will not even contemplate selling Terry to City. However, the nature of the talks today will tell them just how militant he is. If, over the next few weeks, Terry and the club can find no resolution on their differences he may decide to force his way out and that could be very damaging for both sides.
As well as his qualities as a player, Chelsea like having the England captain among their ranks, even more so that he is their one homegrown senior player. Although that means that Terry has huge influence over daily life at Cobham and the ear of Abramovich it also means that the club would never be prepared to let him go as easily as it seems that they will part company this summer with Ricardo Carvalho.
Neither Carvalho nor Deco, both of whom are agitating to leave, turned up to watch the FA Cup final against Everton in May. It is that kind of attitude in the squad that gives Terry cause for concern for the future. The club will present Daniel Sturridge as a new player today having showcased Ross Turnbull yesterday and there have been enquiries about Steven Taylor, the Newcastle defender, but no high-profile signings yet.
Buck said once again yesterday that Chelsea will not sell Terry but even he will have to wait to find out the nature of Terry's talks today. "As a Chelsea fan I'd be devastated if John left but that's not going to happen," Buck said. "John Terry is synonymous with Chelsea and Chelsea is synonymous with him. He has been here since he was a wee tot, he is captain of the club and captain of England. He is the backbone of our team and is not leaving."
Having missed out on Kaka, and getting little encouragement from Bayern Munich or the player himself over Ribéry, Buck said that the club had not yet given up hope. "We said before the transfer season started that we expected four or five players in and a couple out," said Buck. "That is still our expectation. We are looking for a marquee name and are chasing a few but most of the big clubs are chasing the same players.
"We are only going to get one of those top-notch players if the price is right and he fits into our team appropriately. But we are optimistic. We think we know the right price for these players and there is still a lot of time left in the transfer window so let's see how things work out."