Chelsea are having a great season so far, sitting currently at the second spot in the league table, only behind Liverpool. However, the inspiring stint of Antonio Conte as the Chelsea manager has recently been marred by some media rumours that he has been having a spat with midfielder Mikel John Obi – who officially changed his name from John Obi Mikel only a few days ago.
The midfielder joined the Chelsea training few months after Antonio Conte took charge, as he was busy with national duties at the Rio Olympics 2016. Mikel had a nice time there, captaining Nigeria to bronze. However, since then, his footballing days have not been great. Even though Chelsea have had been brilliant on field, the Nigerian had no part in it. Conte did not give him any game time and sport media started saying that he is having a row with the new manager.
But now, the midfielder put an end to all these speculations, releasing an official statement only the other day.
While talking to The Sun, Mikel said that he is not a guy to steer clear of the responsibilities. He acknowledged that people would definitely say that the new manager is upset because of his going to the Olympics. But, the fact that he did not have a pre-season with the team does not imply that he would ever stop caring for the club.
In fact, the 29 year old revealed that the club did neither tell him to leave nor did they give green light to go. “There was no communication — and then the transfer window ended”, he said.
However, at the same time, the Chelsea midfielder said that he does not want to use excuses. With only one year left on his contract, Mikel commented, “I have to keep training hard and make sure I change the manager’s mind. If not, then we’ll see what happens in January.”
“I don’t want to leave just like that. I have been here for 11 years now. It’s good to leave when you finish your contract and you know your business is done,” he added.
Here is the official statement from Mikel John Obi:
“I’d like to clarify that the recent media claims I’ve been punished by Chelsea FC for participating at the Rio 2016 Olympics are completely inaccurate.
“Unfortunately comments made by Gernot Rohr before yesterday’s 3-1 win over Algeria were both mistranslated and taken out of context by the Nigerian media, as English isn’t Mr Rohr’s or much of the Nigerian media’s first language.
“To be absolutely clear, Mr Conte and Chelsea were always fully supportive of my captaincy of the Nigerian team at Rio.
“My only focus now is on winning more silverware with Chelsea and getting Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup, two challenges I can’t wait to face in the coming months.”
Photo by Ben Sutherland