JOHN Obi Mikel has made surprising choice to stay in Europe instead of going to China, according to reports surrounding his imminent exit from Chelsea. The midfielder has been frozen out at Chelsea by Antonio Conte and a move abroad was inevitable. Valencia are the team he will join this January after signing a four-year deal with the La Liga club. Chinese side Shanghai SIPG, Marseille and Serie A giants AC and Inter Milan were all interested in the Nigeria captain. The reason he has opted to move to Spain is unknown.
There won’t be a transfer fee involved as Mikel only has six months left on his contract and the Blues would prefer to release him to get him off the wage bill.
He leaves Stamford Bridge after 11 seasons. During that time he won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League once. It’s a seriously impressive haul. With Chelsea six points clear at the top of the Premier League and on a 13-match, record-equalling winning sequence, opportunities for his return to the matchday squad appear slim. Valencia’s sporting director, Jesus Garcia Pitarch, confirmed the club’s interest in Mikel. “In the case of Obi Mikel, I met with him in London on Christmas Day or the day before,” Pitarch said in quotes reported by Super Deporte. “I asked permission with Chelsea to meet with him and gave him this possibility. “He told me that he would think about it and now it is a situation to assess.” Mikel has also held “advanced talks” with Marseille, according to Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr.