Roberto Di Matteo has backed John Terry to maintain his 'outstanding form' from Euro 2012 and carry on playing at a high level for as long as he is mentally and physically driven.
Terry was this week linked with a move to Paris St Germain before Carlo Ancelotti insisted that he had no plans to try and take the defender to the French capital.
And Di Matteo has made it clear that Terry remains a key part of Chelsea's plans for the upcoming season after an impressive summer at international level.
Terry will turn 32 during the 2012/13 campaign but Di Matteo believes there is every chance he could play on for several more years.
Di Matteo said: "John Terry is our captain and our leader. He is one of the best defenders in the country.
"He was outstanding at the Euros and hopefully he will be the same for us next season.
"In terms of how many years JT can keep playing, it varies from player to player and it depends on injuries.
"But provided you are mentally and physically driven by playing football you can go on.
"From my point of view, JT is one of the best central defenders in the country."
No Lampard exit
Frank Lampard is another senior Chelsea player to have been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, but the midfielder says there is no truth in reports he could join Los Angeles Galaxy.
And Di Matteo says Lampard, who has just one year remaining on his current contract, will stay at the club along with Terry.
"They will be here next season," said the Italian.
"Frank's contract is a matter between the club and the player.
"He has been a fantastic servant to the club and the club will make the decision with him and see if they are happy to go on. But he will be here next season."