The typically exhilarating and frantic January Transfer Window could prove especially significant this season. Aside from the possibility of alluring some of Europe's most distinguished talents to Stamford Bridge, the current window could enable Chelsea's most prominent captain of all-time to depart the club - a possibility that could elicit detrimental repercussions. While this is not the first time the Captain has held an expiring contract going into the second half of the season, it's the first time he's done so without Jose Mourinho either set to arrive or already in charge, and that could make a significant difference.
Over the duration of the previous 18 years, John Terry has been situated at the forefront of Chelsea Football Club's evolution, an evolution furnished with considerable success, both European and domestic glory alike. To date, John Terry has won 16 honours with the club - a monumental achievement that warrants his status as the most successful captain in Chelsea's history. His ferocious nature and pertinacious defiance has asserted his reputation as one of the most proficient defenders of the current generation.
What perhaps distinguishes Terry from the rest is his continuous fidelity to the club. In the modern day, when money is often the most notable incentive for players, it is exceptionally infrequent to see a player remain at the same club throughout his entire career. Seemingly, Terry is one of the few anomalies to the contemporary paradigm. Since joining the club at the juvenile age of 14, and aside from a brief few months on loan at age 19, John Terry has lived Chelsea Football Club every minute of every day.
"Chelsea is what I live for. I've been the ball boy, the mascot, I've painted the stadium. I've done everything".
Terry's unrivaled passion for the club is just one reason why he is extensively adored and idolized by Chelsea supporters. A most instrumental figure over the previous decades, the Englishman's experience is expansive and his influence far greater. On the pitch, off the pitch, behind the scenes, in the dressing room, at the training ground, with the youth team, with the Chelsea Ladies team, in community outreach -- it is difficult to identify an individual who has had a more substantial influence on all things Chelsea. If the club opt against renewing Terry's contract, the effects would be damaging.
Not many people can galvanise team-mates in the manner that Terry does, nor can they continue to maintain or at times improve the standard of their performances - at the age of 34, in his 11th season as Chelsea captain, Terry arguably enjoyed his best season in terms of individual performances while guiding the Blues to a league and cup double.
His involvement last season was critical; the former England captain did not miss a single minute of football in Chelsea's memorable league triumph. Regardless of his age, Terry remains the club's best defender. His positional awareness is unparalleled (making up for his lack of pace); his prowess in both aerial and ground duels are key components of his game. He's proficient with both feet; his technique, passing range, and vision are sneaky good. Chelsea flaunt a respectable win percentage of 65.55% (2005/06-2014/15) when he plays, a stark contrast to 49.36% in his absence. The statistics affirm that Terry remains an integral figure in Chelsea's characteristically compact and staunch defence and he is perhaps the individual most responsible for maintaining that reputation.
Terry's influence on his team-mates is especially significant. When accompanying a player of his magnitude, a defender's development is greatly enhanced. As one of the foremost defenders in Europe, Terry and his ever-flowing fountain of footballing wisdom, can significantly aid a player's progression. A prime example would be Kurt Zouma, whose advancement has accelerated whilst accompanying Terry at the heart of the defence. Most notably, Chelsea's captain has improved Zouma's positional awareness - his greatest and perhaps only significant weakness.
"John is a legend and is an example to me; he is a really good teacher for me. He is still there, he is a leader."
Yet, despite Terry's profusion of experience and still masterful powers, he does effectuate an even greater purpose. He is Chelsea's leader and the last surviving member of the famed 'old guard'.
Despite the success that Chelsea's evolution has begot, the identity of the club has transmuted. The very nucleus of Chelsea's side has been altered, leisurely at first, but at ever increasing pace. Didier Drogba's initial departure forebode future events as Chelsea's core was destabilised. The departures of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard asserted this process. Accordingly the deconstruction of Chelsea's back-bone was ratified by the departures of Petr Cech and Didier Drogba's final farewell (as a player).
Whilst acknowledging their heroic contributions to the history of Chelsea Football Club, it is their invaluable contribution off the field that has been so profoundly missed. There is no method possible that could begin to measure their effect in the dressing room. They were leaders who warranted the respect of fellow team-mates an instant, their presence alone could captivate an entire stadium. All five played an essential role to Chelsea's success; therefore, it is certainly not an abnormal conjunction that the club suffer an abominable demise the very season that only one of the contingent remains.
Although this is not the only factor accountable for the club's woeful decline, the loss of leadership is undisputedly a contributing factor. In the absence of Petr Cech and Didier Drogba - both incredibly authoritative figures - Chelsea have been reliant on John Terry, and to a degree, Branislav Ivanovic, to form the core of the dressing room, a position which was previously occupied by 3-5 people. Once we're blessed with such hindsight we can truly begin to appreciate the significance of these players. They were responsible for unifying the team, and inspiring others to perform to the very best of their abilities.
It is incredibly strenuous to envisage what would happen if the last vestige of the 'old guard' were to depart the club. Admittedly, there are several candidates in the squad who could possibly step into the void, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Diego Costa come to mind, but their leadership properties are not proven in a way Terry's are. Would they be ready to assume and be effective in the role of the big leader? It's tough to draw confidence from the unknown.
A truly majestic quote from Roald Dahl articulates the dawning of every occurrence.
"My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night. But ah my friends, and oh my foes it gives a lovely light"
Terry's candle remains to be aglow, and despite the club's notorious reputation for discarding their elder players, the 35-year-old continues to emit the most effulgent light. He must not be allowed to leave.