Thursday, July 16, 2009

Terry pursuit parallels Gerrard chase

The irony of Manchester City's chase of John Terry will not have escaped the attention of Liverpool supporters still bitter over Chelsea's pursuit of Steven Gerrard before the 2004/05 season.

The parallels with Terry's rumoured switch away from the Blues are uncanny, as any Reds fan will have already pointed out.

Then, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was spending money like it was going out of fashion and used every inch of his financial muscle to tempt the Liverpool captain into leaving the club he joined as a youngster, with some locals having already burned their team shirts before Gerrard 's about face.

The England midfielder may have believed his switch to Jose Mourinho's Stamford Bridge revolution would provide a greater chance for silverware, but the potential to earn a staggering amount more than he was already collecting on Merseyside was another clear motivating factor.

And now to Terry, whose silence over a double-your-money transfer to Eastlands is deafening. Like Gerrard at Liverpool, he's been raised by Chelsea, becoming the England captain and the heartbeat of his club.

But judging by the weekend's round of one-on-ones with Abramovich and other senior Chelsea officials Terry's isn't convinced of the merits of seeing out the remainder of his five-year contract with last season's third-placed finishers.

Already 28, and with a recent catalogue of back complaints, Terry would be short-sighted not to be eyeing one final giant payday as well as the lure of helping establish City as one of Europe's grandest.

While it is debatable whether Chelsea are a club on the rise or decline, he will doubtless have cast an envious glance at Mark Hughes's signings of Roque Santa Cruz and Carlos Tevez while his own club have scratched around to add goalkeeper Ross Turnbull from Middlesbrough and Yuri Zhirkov from CSKA Moscow, not to mention 19-year-old Daniel Sturridge from City.

Sturridge's arrival for a tribunal fee perfectly encapsulates the cyclic nature of modern football. Only a handful of years ago it was Chelsea doing the raiding, paying over the odds to take Shaun Wright-Phillips to the Bridge for a mammoth £21 million.

But Wright-Phillips is already back in Manchester, as is England full-back Wayne Bridge – a close friend of Terry – who joined City from the Blues in the January transfer window.

Some Chelsea fans can't stop themselves wondering whether £40 million wouldn’t be such a bad exchange for Terry. He's even been branded a mercenary by those who suggest his standing with the Chelsea faithful has taken a battering over recent contract negotiations, including his latest tight-lipped stance on leaving.

Chelsea chief Peter Kenyon has claimed Terry is not for sale at any price, which means a player popular with his team-mates must go out on a limb and place a written transfer request before City's interest can be taken to the next stage.

What's certain is Terry's involvement in Chelsea's 10-day tour of North America is meaningless. City have already significantly bolstered their attack but their defence remains relatively fragile and Terry is one of England's top three central defenders.

They will not simply roll over and forget all about it.

Intriguingly, Hughes already has two of England's finest up-and-coming centre-halves at his disposal in Nedum Onuoha and Micah Richards.

England's under-21 central defensive pairing for the recent European tournament in Sweden are certain to benefit from Terry's tutelage in the long-term, as would Fabio Capello as he casts his mind forward to the 2014 World Cup, should the most expensive transfer involving a defender come to fruition.

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

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