Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink distanced himself from the ongoing debate surrounding skipper John Terry’s future after striker Diego Costa rescued a late point for his side in a pulsating contest against Manchester United.
Costa’s injury-time leveller extended Hiddink’s unbeaten run since returning to the Stamford Bridge hotseat in December to 10 matches and robbed United, who had taken the lead through Jesse Lingard, of moving to within four points of the top four.
Terry claimed post-match that there had been no communication from Chelsea’s hierarchy over a possible contract extension despite Hiddink’s assertion that the door was not closed on the long-serving club captain.
The 35-year-old last week announced his intention to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season after being advised by the club that he would not be offered a new one-year contract at the present time.
“It’s a difficult one,” said Terry. “The club is the most important thing but there’s no communication at the moment. I said what I had to say, that’s how it is. I’ve made it very clear I want to stay.
But Hiddink refused to become embroiled in the stand-off and preferred instead to concentrate on Chelsea’s upcoming fixtures, which include the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tussle with Paris Saint-Germain on 16 February.
“We have dealt with this issue last week,” said Hiddink. “Let’s wait and see what happens. We’re all focusing on the games in the tough weeks coming up, not the decision.”
Terry’s importance to Chelsea could be underlined during the remainder of the campaign after Hiddink confirmed that centre-half Kurt Zouma could be ruled out for the remainder of the season after landing awkwardly and being carried off on a stretcher.
“The rest of the season is hopefully too much, but tomorrow he will have an examination,” added Hiddink. “If you’ve seen the images and have experience of hyperextensions of the knee joint, it’s very bad when you land with a hyperextension of your leg.”
United were on course for their first victory in 10 league and cup matches against Chelsea when Lingard swivelled and lashed a stunning half-volley into the top corner of Thibaut Courtois’ net shortly after the hour mark.
But Costa, who was facing United for the first time in a Chelsea shirt, collected a through ball from Cesc Fabregas, rounded David de Gea and slid the ball into an empty net to haul the Blues level in stoppage time.
A draw, Hiddink’s sixth in eight league matches, kept Chelsea 13th, 17 points adrift of a Champions League place and seven clear of the relegation zone, while United stay fifth, six points adrift of Manchester City in fourth.