John Terry has snubbed Premier League interest to join Aston Villa, and now plans to help his new club return to the top-flight of English football.
The 36-year-old became a free agent this summer when he ended his long association with Chelsea, and Bournemouth, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion were all prepared to offer him the chance to remain in the elite division. However, the former England international captain didn’t want to face his former club, so instead agreed to drop down to the Championship with Villa.
The Midlands club were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2015-16 season, and endured a difficult time in the second tier last term which included Roberto di Matteo being shown the door for current manager Steve Bruce. Villa ended the campaign in 13th place and 31 points off automatic promotion, and Terry is aiming for a significant improvement on this.
“I am delighted to join Aston Villa,” he said. “It’s a club I have admired from afar for many years – there are fantastic facilities at Bodymoor Heath, Villa Park is one of the finest stadiums in the country and there’s a good group of players here, with an experienced and successful manager in Steve Bruce. I can’t wait to get started and look to help the squad achieve something special this season.”
On his decision to reject a move to another Premier League side, the defender added: “For me it was just the mental side of playing against Chelsea, it was just too much to get over for me. I was 22 years at the football club, I’m very proud of that but this is a new chapter in my life, my career. I wish Chelsea well next season and will be watching out but my thoughts are 100 per cent here.”
It is understood that if Terry can help Villa back to the Premier League, he stands to earn as much as £4million. He is the first addition Bruce has made to his squad ahead of the new season, but there are expected to be more to come. Signing the Chelsea legend will no doubt go down well with the fans, particularly as archrivals Birmingham City were also in the hunt for his signature.
“We made John a fantastic offer,” Blues boss Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports. “I’d be a liar, if suddenly when he’s gone to our rivals, I stood here and said we didn’t want him. That’s not true – I have been one of John’s biggest fans, I think he is a fantastic player. We made him a good offer early but to be honest it was always a difficult one because I felt maybe I am looking to bring in five or six players.”