Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is open to the idea of former captain John Terry joining the club’s coaching staff.
It appears unlikely Terry will be returning to Stamford Bridge – for now.
No discussions have been held over the possibility of Terry returning “home” and it is Sarri’s understanding, from speaking to the 37-year-old earlier this month, that the defender is keen to continue playing for another season.
Terry left Stamford Bridge after 22 years’ service in June 2017, for a one-year contract with Aston Villa.
The former England captain rejected a move to Spartak Moscow this week, but he is a free agent and able to join any club outside of the transfer window.
“The last time I spoke with him he told me that he wants to play for another season,” said Sarri, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Cardiff, when the Blues will be targeting a fifth win from five games.
“I don’t know now the situation. I’m talking about one week ago. Chelsea is his home, of course.”
Asked about the prospect of Terry returning, Sarri added: “He told me he wants to play.
John Terry won five Premier League titles with Chelsea (Nick Potts/PA Images)
“For sure he will be a point of reference for me, for everybody here (if he returned).
“I am very open with him, because he’s the history of the club. He has won everything with the club, so it’s up to him.
“If he wants to play for another season I think it’s right he tries to play.
“If he wants to help us, I’m very, very happy.”
There is no consideration for Terry returning to Stamford Bridge as a player, with Sarri prioritising young talent like Wales international Ethan Ampadu.
“I said before I want to give space to the young players,” Sarri said.
Maurizio Sarri has won all four of his Premier League matches as Chelsea head coach (Owen Humphreys/PA Images)
Chelsea’s perfect start to the season has led to suggestions they can challenge for the title after finishing fifth last term, well adrift of champions Manchester City.
Asked which teams are in title contention, Sarri said: “At the moment I can answer City or Liverpool, at the moment.
“We need another step, I think, to be the same level.”
Asked whether the title is unrealistic, Sarri added: “I think so. I hope not. It’s very difficult. The gap was 30 points at the beginning of the season.
“My feeling is that now we are not a very solid team in the defensive phase. I think we need to improve.”
Cesar Azpilicueta has captained Chelsea so far this season (Victoria Jones/PA Images)
Sarri has decided on his permanent captain, but will tell his players his decision first, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and David Luiz all potential skippers.
Cesc Fabregas is fit again following a knee injury, but Sarri suggested it may be more beneficial for the playmaker to train this weekend, rather than be a substitute.
Emerson Palmieri, Davide Zappacosta (both illness) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (shin) are doubts.
Sarri is known as a heavy smoker and said during the international break his father was trying to persuade him to quit. It is something the 59-year-old is trying to do.
“Unfortunately at the moment, I am not able to stop. I am trying,” Sarri said.
“My father told me to stop in the last 20 years, I think. He is the only one who put me in doubt.”
Sarri’s smoking ban would be only temporary, “for one, two years, yes. No more”. He added: “Then I’d like to start again.”