Nigeria Sports

Mikel moves to save Chelsea career

Festus Abu

Out-of-favour Chelsea midfielder  Mikel  Obi has held showdown talks with  Blues  manager  Antonio Conte  after being  frozen out of the team by the Italian.


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The Nigeria captain  has yet to play a single  Premier League match for the Stamford Bridge side  since the beginning  of the season.

Mikel revealed  on Monday  that  he had been working hard to  play his way back into the team.

“Fighting every day for my place, like all the guys are. Focus, work hard,” the 2013 Europa League winner  wrote  on Twitter.

Former Italy manager Conte is allegedly not happy with the 29-year-old for opting to represent Nigeria at the Rio  2016 Olympic Games, where he helped the national Under-23 team win bronze (Nigeria’s only medal at the competition).

Mikel, who was signed from Norwegian side Lyn Oslo by the then manager of Chelsea Jose Mourinho  in 2016,  has  however  turned in a pair of impressive performances for  the Super Eagles, guiding them to a 1-0 victory over Tanzania in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo in September   followed by  their 2-1 win against Zambia in their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Ndola on October 9.

With criticisms flying from all directions for his lack of match action at his London club, the 2012 UEFA Champions League winner, who got  plenty of playing time under Dutchman  Guus Hiddink, has apparently moved to save his club career.

Mikel is competing with in-form N’Golo Kante and  Nemanja Matic for a role  in defensive midfield and the player, who represented Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil,  confirmed on Tuesday he had  spoken to Conte about his frustrations at the club.

“I hope I will get some playing time against West Ham, but it is down to the manager,”  the Evening Standard quoted him as saying.

“He has been open and honest with me. I respect him for that. He has explained the situation and I totally understand.

“When you have been at a club for a long time, these things happen where a club wants to move forward.

“I just have to be professional, work as hard as I can to try and get into the team. I work twice as hard every day and it’s because I appreciate this club.”

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