John Obi Mikel announces Chelsea exit ahead of move to China
By James Dale
Last Updated: 06/01/17 10:13am
John Obi Mikel has announced he is leaving Chelsea to join Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA.
The midfielder confirmed his departure on social media, saying it was "time for me to say goodbye" after 10 years at Stamford Bridge and having made 374 appearances for the Blues.
Mikel joined Chelsea as a 19-year-old from Norwegian Premier League side Lyn in 2006 but has not made a single appearance under Antonio Conte this season, and the Nigeria international admitted playing time was a factor in his decision to leave.
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"As you will know, I haven't featured as much this season as I would have liked, and at 29 I still have many years in the game ahead of me," Mikel said in a statement. "With this in mind, I feel now is the time to seek a new challenge.
"I'm delighted to be joining Tianjin TEDA FC in China, at a time that the Chinese Super League is really taking off, and I look forward to helping Tianjin TEDA FC continue to grow both on and off the pitch in the next few years."
Mikel has won 11 trophies during his time at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles, and the player paid tribute to club owner Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea fans for helping him achieve such success, highlighting the club's Champions League final win in 2012 against Bayern Munich as one of his proudest moments.
"To Mr Abramovich, the club's staff, coaches, physios, and to the manager I played under Chelsea, I want to say thank you," Mikel added.
"But my biggest thanks must go to the Blues fans. You brought me into the Chelsea family, you sung my name, and were there with us every step of the way. Thanks to your support, on nights like in Munich, you made the impossible possible."