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John Terry leaving for Bournemouth would taint Chelsea legend's legacy

Bournemouth have reportedly made a shock enquiry about taking John Terry on loan until the end of the season.

ESPN FC takes a look at the pros and cons of a temporary switch to the south coast for the Chelsea captain ...

PROS

He would play regularly

Terry has started four Premier League matches for Chelsea this season. This is partly due to injuries; strained ankle ligaments suffered against Swansea City and a glute muscle injury picked up in training at Cobham limited him to just two appearances in all competitions between September and January.

But there can be no denying that Antonio Conte's highly successful switch to a 3-4-3 formation has pushed his captain down the defensive pecking order. David Luiz is undisputed first choice to play in the middle of the back three, while the returns of Kurt Zouma and Nathan Ake are likely to further limit Terry's chances.

Bournemouth, however, are in the market for a central defender after losing Ake ahead of schedule, and Terry's vast experience would be greatly valued by Eddie Howe. He would also be likely to start every week when fit, given that he would not agree to the loan for anything less.

It could extend his top-level career

There is no guarantee Terry will be offered a new contract by Chelsea beyond this season, but the 36-year-old has been vocal about his desire to delay his retirement for one or two more years.

Establishing himself in the Bournemouth defence now would put him in good position to secure an extension with the Cherries in the summer. At the very least, by showing that he can still be a reliable and consistent performer in the Premier League, interest could be drawn from elsewhere.

Howe has already demonstrated his ability to revive struggling English stars with Jack Wilshere this season. There is no reason why he would not be able to repeat the trick with Terry -- if indeed that is what the Chelsea captain wants.

John Terry has won it all with Chelsea but at 36, his days as first choice are over.

CONS

It would taint his Chelsea legacy

Nothing in football matters more to Terry than his Chelsea legacy. It's why he fought so hard for a new contract last season, using his emotional connection with the supporters to put pressure on the club hierarchy, and it's why he decided to sign a new deal in May despite being only offered reduced terms.

Terry is not a one-club man -- six appearances on loan for Nottingham Forest in 2000 put paid to that -- but he is synonymous with Chelsea to an even greater degree than friend and fellow Stamford Bridge legend Frank Lampard. He has repeatedly insisted that he could never play for another English club.

Heading to Bournemouth for a few months of Premier League football would be a strange way to go back on those words, as well as making him highly unlikely to earn another contract at Chelsea.

With that in mind, it would be staggering if Terry decided to deny himself the chance to end his Premier League career at Stamford Bridge.

He could win another Premier League title

In an interview with former Chelsea teammate William Gallas for SFR Sport in November, Terry made a pretty remarkable statement about his inability to break back into Conte's starting XI after an ankle injury.

"I'm in a position now when the team is playing unbelievable, playing really well, not conceding goals and I can't get in the team, and that's a good thing, I'm so happy for the boys and the team," he insisted, before adding: "In the nicest way, I hope I don't get back in the team because it means we continue to win football matches."

When Chelsea imploded last season and found themselves languishing in mid-table, Terry might have been forgiven for thinking his Premier League title-winning days were over. Conte's transformation of the team means that a fifth winners' medal is now back within reach.

Conte insists that Terry is continuing to lead the team off the pitch, providing good influence and guidance despite his lack of starting opportunities, and all the signs are that the 36-year-old is happy to help his teammates in any way he can.

Would he really sacrifice the chance for one last moment of glory in a Chelsea shirt, just to play more somewhere else? It seems highly unlikely.

Verdict

Any benefit Terry would gain from joining Bournemouth on loan would be vastly outweighed by the cost to his legacy and chances of further success at Chelsea this season. Leaving now would go against everything he has said publicly in recent months and years, and there is nothing to suggest he would consider it.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.

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