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Zola claims many Qatari clubs interested in John Terry

The Italian was speaking for the first time since his current side, Al-Arabi was linked to the Chelsea captain.
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Zola claims many Qatari clubs interested in John Terry
John Sibley REUTERS

John Terry is a "big name" player who would attract interest from several club sides in Qatar, his former Chelsea teammate Gianfranco Zola said on Thursday.

The Italian was speaking publicly for the first time since his current side -- Al-Arabi -- was linked to the Chelsea captain following Terry's announcement last month that he would leave the English champions at the end of the season.

But Zola said it would not only be his team in the Gulf who would want to sign the potential free agent Terry.

"When we talk about John Terry, we are talking about a big player, big name and I believe a player of this stature is not of interest only for the team, but also for the whole league," said Zola at a Doha press conference.

"I believe the Qatari league is a league that wants to grow bigger so I believe there might be interest not only from Al-Arabi but there might be interest from all the Qatari league."

Terry, 35, announced at the end of January that he would leave the London club in the summer when his contract expires, claiming there would be no "fairytale ending".

However, Chelsea have also held out some hope to the centre-half that they may offer him a new deal "in the coming months".

Terry is just three games away from playing his 700th match for Chelsea in a career stretching back to October 1998 when he made his debut against Aston Villa.

In that time, Terry has won four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, the 2012 Champions League and the 2013 Europa League.

John Terry in 2005 lifting the Carling Cup

At the beginning of his career he played alongside Zola, who appeared for Chelsea more than 200 times.

Both players were in the squad which won the FA Cup in 2000 and the side that secured a top four finish for Chelsea, coached by Claudio Ranieri, in 2002/03.

Press speculation has linked Terry to a big money move to Al-Arabi, who are fifth in the Qatar Stars League, one place behind Al Sadd, the team for which Xavi Hernandez plays.

Qatar is eager to get more big names to play in its domestic league in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.

However, Zola, 49, warned it would not only be Qatari clubs after Terry.

"He's been linked not only to Qatar, he's been linked also to the MLS, to China."

And competing for top names with the Chinese might prove tough, even for the Qataris.

"It's more difficult for any league if there is a league like China which has invested so much money. It will be more competition for Qatar, for leagues in Europe."