Antonio Conte says he respects John Terry’s decision to leave, but admits the veteran defender will be sorely missed.
The 36-year-old Chelsea skipper announced on Monday he would be ending his 22-year relationship with the Blues at the end of the season.
Terry has won 14 major titles throughout his stay at the club, but has slipped down the pecking order under Conte, with Azpilicueta, Luiz and Cahill favored in the back three.
“I am not surprised about this [the reaction]. I am repeating that John, for me in this first season, is very important. He is helping me on and off the pitch,” Conte said.
“He is a great captain, the problem is that John wants to play regularly and for this reason we have to respect his decision. I was a footballer and when you arrive at this point of your career, and your body tells you to continue it is right to.
“We have to respect his decision. If you ask me if next season it is a serious loss…yes, I think so. I am seeing what John is doing this season in the changing room. We are building a foundation and he is important to this.”