Nigeria captain Mikel Obi has insisted that he is staying at Chelsea and is aiming to earn a new deal at the club despite reports linking him away from the club.
Mikel, 29, has been reportedly targeted by teams in China, Turkey and the Middle East this summer but, after 10 years at Chelsea, he says he is determined to fight for his place under new boss Antonio Conte.
“I am definitely staying at Chelsea and I will try to give my best to the club, like I have always done,” Mikel told Standard Sport on Tuesday.
“I want to help the team fight for every point, every win and to win trophies. I also want to help the team qualify for the Champions League again as soon as possible.
“For 10 years I have been going to the same training ground, the same locker room. It is an amazing club, with an amazing owner. They are like a family to me. It is a place that has become a part of me.”
Mikel, who has 12 months left on his contract, hopes to convince the club to offer an extension but insists he will not hold any grudges if he ends up leaving on a free transfer.
“I have a year left and then we will see what happens,” he said. “If I play well this season, it will help me earn a new contract.
“I will give 120 per cent every time I’m on the pitch or come off the bench. I will always give my best.
“If Chelsea decide they want to talk, then we will talk.
“If I have to move on, I’m sure there will be plenty of clubs out there where I can continue my football career.
“It will be difficult to leave but these things happen. You have to move on one day.
“My happy memories of Chelsea will never go away.”
Meanwhile, Mikel, who was born John Michael Nchekwube Obinna in 1987, had his name mistakenly changed in 2003 and now wants it changed back.
During the registration process for the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, the Nigeria Football Federation mistakenly submitted ‘Michael’ as ‘Mikel’ for the tournament in Finland, but the midfielder decided to keep his new name.
The Chelsea midfielder says the mistake had a “special ring to it,” and from joining Chelsea in 2006 he went by ‘Mikel John Obi’ instead of ‘John Obi Mikel.’
And the midfielder has now decided to officially change his full name to Mikel John Obi.
But Chelsea fans need not worry about their new 2016/17 replica shirts need not worry as ‘Mikel/12’ will stay on the jersey.