Chelsea have denied telling club captain John Terry that he will leave the club at the end of the season, while manager Antonio Conte has hailed the dressing room impact of the defender.
Terry has featured in just five out of 15 Premier League matches under Conte and does not look close to getting back into the starting line-up following Chelsea’s nine-match winning streak in his absence.
Reports on Tuesday suggested that Terry, 36, would not be offered an extension on his current contract, but that was denied by a club spokesman: “It’s the kind of discussion we have with players much later in the season.
“That discussion has not taken place between John and the club, it will take place later in the season.”
Also, Conte used his pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s trip to bottom-placed Sunderland on Wednesday night to hail the impact of Terry behind-the-scenes in place of a regular influence on the pitch.
“John is our captain and I think he’s doing a good job,” said the Italian ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League match with rock-bottom Sunderland. He’s not playing and he’s helping me a lot in the changing room, to send a right message to the players.
“He loves this club and I think it’s important now to be focused, I don’t think about the future. I’m pleased to know the man, not only the player. I think he’s a really important player for us, if he plays or if he doesn’t play. He’s our captain and he remains our captain. It’s important for me to send the right message, the right spirit in the changing room.
“He comes with us for every game, home and away. It’s very positive. But it’s better to be focused on the present. I think John is able to do different roles in football but now it’s important to be focused, to play.”
Conte also failed to guarantee the future of marginalised midfielder Cesc Fabregas, but said the Spaniard remains a good option for him when he needs him, as demonstrated in the recent win over Manchester City when the former Arsenal captain started and assisted Diego Costa’s goal.
“In my experience it’s very difficult to guarantee something,” he explained. “But in my opinion, Cesc is an important player for us and he played a key match against Manchester City.
“He came on very well in the last game and I still have to decide the starting XI, but Cesc is always a good choice for me. I repeat: he’s an important player and he’s in the squad.”