Reports: John Obi Mikel to force transfer amid discontent over first-team role
John Obi Mikel is planning to quit Chelsea this summer unless incoming manager Antonio Conte assures him of getting regular first-team role next season. According to reports from Goal, Mikel is increasingly worried over his place in the side following Radja Nainggolan’s alleged move to Stamford Bridge.
Mikel recently completed his 10th season with Chelsea during which he has won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Europa League and a Champions League. The 29-year-old midfielder has made 372 appearances for The Blues but is willing to put an end to all of that this summer over the lack of first team action.
Conte looks certain to deploy a 3-5-2 system which would require more mobile midfielders who can contribute both going forward as well as protect their defence. Mikel, for all his defensive abilities, lacks the goal-scoring touch after scoring just six times in his Chelsea career.
The Blues already have Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic available for next season while N’Golo Kante, Axel Witsel and Radja Nainggolan are seen as viable signings this summer to further boost Chelsea’s midfield. These additions would send Mikel further down the pecking order where he would need to be content with a place on the bench.
However, the Nigerian International made it clear last season about his desires to either play regularly or seek a move elsewhere. In an interview with Goal, Mikel said: “I have to play because one thing I don’t want to do is to sit on the bench like I did before. Wherever it is I just want to play. When this season ends we will definitely sort out the contracts.”
Another reason for Mikel’s growing concern is Chelsea’s lack of midweek matches next season. The Blues are without any Europa League or Champions League matches which could mean that Conte can pick the same starting XI week-in-week-out which would make it even harder for Mikel to break in the starting XI next season.
However, despite all of these reservations, Mikel is interested in extending his current Chelsea contract which ends in the summer of 2017. If Mikel does decide to eventually call it quits on Chelsea, Blues supporters will see another of their long-serving players depart in recent seasons. The likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech have all left Stamford Bridge in recent seasons with Mikel looking like the next in line.