Chelsea captain John Terry to leave club at end of season

Chelsea captain John Terry will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, the Premier League leaders have announced.

The 36-year-old defender has been a key figure for the club since his debut in 1998, but has been restricted to just five league appearances under Antonio Conte this season.

In a statement, Terry said he would make a decision on his future "in due course" but is "eager" to continue his playing career.

He said: "The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days.

"We had some really positive talks but with everything taken into careful consideration I have decided it's the right time for me to leave.

"I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me.

"I'm eager to carry on playing and so will be looking to continue with a new challenge."

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia described Terry as an "outstanding" player and an "inspirational captain".

She said: "Chelsea has grown into one of the world's top clubs and it is only right that John's contribution is recognised.

"He will always be held in the highest regard by everybody at Stamford Bridge and we look forward to welcoming him back in the future."

Announcing Terry's departure, the club hinted at a future non-playing role so he "will be able to share his unparalleled experience with players, staff and fans alike".

The former England captain has made 713 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 66 goals.

He is the most decorated player in the club's history, having won the Champions League, four Premier League titles, the Europa League, five FA Cups and three League Cups.

Terry is also Chelsea's third highest all-time appearance-maker, behind Ron Harris and Peter Bonetti.