LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has opened the door for former captain John Terry to return to the club as part of his coaching staff.
Terry left Chelsea in 2017 after nearly 20 years at the club, where he won five Premier League titles.
He played for second tier Championship side Aston Villa last season and this week turned down the chance to sign for Spartak Moscow.
The 37-year-old is reported to want to continue playing but Sarri said he would welcome Terry back at Stamford Bridge if he decided to pursue a coaching career.
"I don't know, the last time I spoke to him he told me that he wants to play for another season but I don't know the situation," Sarri told reporters at his news conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Cardiff City.
"Of course (I'm open to having him). For sure he would be a point of reference for me and everyone here I think. I don't know (the chances) he told me other things, he told me he wants to play but I don't know, I have to speak to him again.
"Here is John Terry's home, he would be very important for everyone here. It's up to him, I am very open with him because of his history with the club."
Sarri has enjoyed a superb start to his Chelsea reign with the London club winning all four of their league games to sit joint top of the table with Liverpool and Watford.
They will be expected to make it five from five at Stamford Bridge on Saturday when Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas could be on the bench after recovering from a knee injury.
"In a few days, one week, he will be ready to play. At the moment he is able to be on the bench. Maybe it's better for him to have two days of training," Sarri said.
While promoted Cardiff are yet to win this season, Sarri said they will provide a tough test.
"Mentally the match after the (international) break it is very difficult; materially because we will play against a very physical team," he said.
"If we want to take the points, we will need a very good performance tomorrow. It will be a very difficult game for everybody who plays Cardiff."
Asked whether his side can challenge for the title, Sarri said champions Manchester City and Liverpool were favourites and that Chelsea needed to improve defensively.
"We need another step to be at the same level. I think this season is too soon, but I hope not," he said.
"My feeling is that now we are not a very solid team in the defensive phase."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)