John Terry has made a habit of calling out false media reports about himself in recent years, and the latest one to feel his Instagram ire was the story from The Sun (frequently the target of JT’s corrections), which claimed that the former Chelsea captain “blocked” the club’s transfer approach for Sergio Agüero in 2010, then at Atlético Madrid.
JT’s caption reads, “Where do these get the stories from? If they bothered calling players agents it would solve an awful lot of nonsense!”
I hate to use the phrase “in fairness”, but it should be pointed out that a) agents are not exactly unbiased sources, b) calling them would require the presence of proper journalism and this is The Sun, and c) they’re actually basing their story on The Athletic’s report, just with a more reductive headline because again, this is The Sun.
That story, authored by familiar name Simon Johnson, formerly of the Evening Standard now with The Athletic, tells the fairly familiar tale of Chelsea missing out on Sergio Aguero at the start of this decade, opting to sign Fernando Torres instead in January 2011 for £50m, six months before Agüero would move to Manchester City for £35m. Yeah, oopsies. Ostensibly, it’s written as a what-if piece, but it comes across more as insight from hindsight. (I wonder what Chelsea’s next match is?)
In fairness — there’s that phrase again — the report does admit that there were multiple factors, but it does lead with the John Terry bit. This was in January 2010, “when players in the Chelsea dressing room had a lot of influence. The Athletic understands Terry wasn’t a huge fan of Aguero’s abilities and passed that opinion on to the powerbrokers at the club. Indeed, after playing against him on both occasions in the Champions League, Terry wasn’t overly impressed by Aguero’s movement — despite his superb double in Spain.”
Since joining #mcfc in 2011, #Aguero has scored a club record 244 goals & been key to #mcfc's four PL titles. So just imagine how English football might have been different had he joined #cfc as he wanted to a decade ago. Read why it didn't happen here: https://t.co/FTe7NypxIb— Simon Johnson (@SJohnsonSport) November 18, 2019
Terry apparently liked David Villa (not a bad choice either), while Chelsea also pursued Neymar (also not a bad choice), and ended up with Torres (well, he did win that corner). In fairness — again — then Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti liked all those players in public comments, and would later even absolve Roman Abramovich of responsibility for the “Torres meddling/mistake” (allowing for the possibility that Carlo was just playing a bit of PR as the nice man that he is).
But how much did Terry’s influence really matter? He says it’s nonsense, and the circumstantial evidence supports that.
Chelsea were linked with Agüero frequently throughout 2009 and 2010, as he burst onto the scene at Atlético Madrid alongside the wonderfully coiffed Diego Forlán. But as much as he may have wanted to leave for a bigger stage than Madrid’s second team, Atléti CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín was playing hardball. Agüero would eventually force his way out in 2011, but only after making at least one official exit statement. Before then, Chelsea had reportedly balked at British record prices asked (£40m, if not more), plus there was the bit about a fake interview ... it was all happening, as it often does in Silly Season.
Meanwhile, despite a disappointing 2008-09 season, Chelsea weren’t desperate to spend on attack. In Premier League top scorer Nico Anelka, the incomparable Didier Drogba, the lovely Salomon Kalou, the soon-to-be-magnificent Florent Malouda, oft-injured Joe Cole, plus support from Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, and Deco, Chelsea were not hurting for firepower. And sure enough, Ancelotti’s Double-winning Blues would set a new Premier League record in 2009-10 for goals scored with 103 (broken only by City in 2017-18 with 106). Prime Droga himself got 37 in all competitions, while Prime Lampard chipped in with a ridiculous 26 from midfield.
In classic Chelsea fashion however, we did not build on that position of strength in 2010, throwing away Carlo’s progress on a first half-hearted attempt at an austerity/homegrown project. Ancelotti’s winter “bad moment” quickly put a stop to this notion, and the pendulum swung the other way. Chelsea spent £70m+ (and that’s 2010 money) on Torres and David Luiz all on one day, transfer deadline day, January 31 2011! But they weren’t the only ones we were targeting in our panic.
“Yesterday I received an offer of €45 million from Real Madrid for Aguero and I said no. This week, Chelsea offered us €60 million for ‘Kun’ and Godin and our answer was the same. I will not negotiate with Real Madrid or any other club for Aguero now or in the summer.”
-Miguel Ángel Gil Marín; source: AS via Goal; January 25, 2011
Gil Marin, yet another classic big-talking sports executive, would end up selling Aguero six months later, but by that time Chelsea already tied our sails to Fernando Torres’ brokenness.
To point out the obvious, if Chelsea were not quite willing to spend €40m on Agüero in 2009, but were wiling to spend €60m on Agüero in January 2011, whatever John Terry’s influence may have been in 2010, it certainly doesn’t seem to have mattered much in the end.
In the end, as it so often happens in football media, it comes down to whom you trust. The truth, as always, is out there, probably lost somewhere in the grey in-betweens.