Ever since it was announced a week ago that Chelsea captain John Terry would not be extending his contract at Stamford Bridge, Atlanta United fans have been weighing the pros and cons of signing him. Those debates were triggered by pure speculation and the simple fact that the club need Designated Players for their first MLS season in 2017.
Fans speculate all the time, it's what makes being a fan of a sports team fun. However, now we may have the first actual sign that this signing could really come to fruition. Atlanta United president Darren Eales posted this picture on Twitter Sunday afternoon of himself inside the Chelsea boardroom:
While there are many reasons Eales could be in London visiting Chelsea, it seems a little coincidental that he'd be there just a week after the announcement that John Terry wouldn't be staying at the club next season.
The Atlanta United brass spent a good portion of the 2015 MLS season traveling around the country to Seattle, New York, and other cities observing how other clubs operate. It's completely possible this was just another trip to observe and learn. However, that conclusion would make this an extremely boring blog post. Seeing as how there's not much else to talk about, let's start speculating:
Before we look at John Terry's on and off-the-field transgressions and pick apart his career infraction by infraction, we have to look at the actual logistics of such a signing. John Terry's contract expires this June. He'll be on the hunt for a new club. If he struck a deal with Atlanta United, the club would have to find a loan situation for him to spend the majority of the year at. Would the 35-year-old be willing to spend a year at another club just to play for Atlanta United? It seems a bit of a stretch.
One upside to a sign and loan type of deal would be that Terry would join the club at the beginning of the 2017 season instead of the middle like so many European players regularly do in MLS. That just disrupts the team's flow, so it would be an advantage in that regard. Let's just for argument's sake say he does agree to it. Would this signing make sense from a chemistry standpoint?
John Terry's career has been littered with on and off-the-field incidents that put his character as a human being in question. There's no doubt that he was a great defender and on-field leader for Chelsea for many years. But is that enough to forget that he had an affair with his teammate, Wayne Bridge's wife? Or that he was found guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand? Or that he supposedly mocked Americans who perished during the 9/11 terrorist attacks? The list goes on and on of transgressions that shine a negative light on Terry.
Does Atlanta United really want begin their franchise with a blind eye policy when it comes to character? Do they want to become the Dallas Cowboys or Oakland Raiders of MLS that only care about production and ignore the checkered pasts of acquisitions? That's not the type of image you to project to a potential fan base.
As for on-the-field production, it's impossible to judge Terry's merits for the club. We simply don't have enough context to know if he'd be a good fit in that aspect. United still don't have a manager or know what style of soccer they hope to play. It would be irresponsible to try and sign such an important player this early in the process without these crucial factors available to sway the decision.
There's no questioning that John Terry would be a good leader if he signed with Atlanta United. But is that really worth all the negativity that would come with his arrival? I don't believe it is. There are other fish in the sea. Fish that aren't racists, adulterers, or just generally terrible people.