LONDON: Jose Mourinho has predicted that John Terry will remain with Chelsea for at least another two seasons but will make no attempt to persuade Petr Cech to stay should his goalkeeper decide that he wants to leave this summer.
The futures of two of the biggest playing legends in the club's history will be finalised in the coming months but, while Mourinho said that he could "guarantee" Terry would stay, he offered limited reassurance over Cech.
Mourinho confirmed that Thibaut Courtois would return in goal tonight against West Ham United in the Premier League and, although Cech did play in Sunday's League Cup final win, he is expected to seek a new challenge in the summer. The big caveat from Mourinho, however, is that Chelsea would only countenance a sale that reflects Cech's ongoing status as one of the best goalkeeper in the world.
"I don't think Petr is a guy to be persuaded," said Mourinho. "I will just wait, wishing his decision is to stay. But I don't waste my time trying to persuade him. If he tells me he wants to leave I will tell him my opinion: that he is one of the three best goalkeepers in the world, so huge money."
The situation with Terry is more straightforward, with the 34-year-old playing some of the best football of his career and seemingly happy with the club's policy of offering only one-year deals to players above the age of 30.
"I know what my board tell me and what the player tells me," said Mourinho. "No doubts he is going to get his contract."
Mourinho, though, admitted that the club had given thought to how they would eventually replace Terry, who lifted the 15th trophy of his Chelsea career at Wembley on Sunday. He also admitted to surprise at how Terry has revitalised his career after losing his place two years ago under Rafael Benitez. "I thought maybe physically he is suffering - I thought many things," said Mourinho. "Step by step, I think he has recovered his good feelings.
"At Chelsea, we decided at a certain age to provoke the players, to stimulate the players, to make them feel the past doesn't play a role. If they don't accept [a one-year contract] they are not ready for the challenge. John accepted. That is a guarantee the fire is there. If the fire is there, this contract will not be the last.
"Every one of these big guys is difficult to replace but at the same time you still have the player and he is still an important player, you have to start thinking: 'What next?' But this is a process that we can take our time over because John is proving again this season that he's a player for years." The most obvious eventual successor is 20-year-old Kurt Zouma, who is already competing with Gary Cahill to be the centre-back partner to Terry. "Different players but it will be difficult to find a John replica," said Mourinho. He also stressed that Zouma's future would not be as a holding midfielder, despite him deputising in that role for the suspended Nemanja Matic in the League Cup final.
"We bought him because of his physical profile but we were not happy with his tactical knowledge - he's had an acceleration in that process to bring him to a level where he is competing with Gary," he said.
Mourinho believes that Chelsea are now sure of Champions League football next season but said that Manchester City will be conscious of how Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are gathering behind them in second. "I think they know they are there," he said.