I left Chelsea because Conte sidelined me – Mikel Obi

Former Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi has revealed that he left the English Premier League club because of the former manager, Antonio Conte.

He said shortly after Conte took over as club manager, he and his compatriot Victor Moses were invited to represent the Nigerian national team at the Olympics, and the Italian tactician told them that if they leave they should consider themselves no longer part of his team.

Mikel who had a chat on the latest episode of the Vibe with Five podcast, revealed that he convinced Moses to stay back while he went to the Olympics with Nigeria.

Unfortunately for him after his return, Conte sent him to the reserve team. He said that was the incident that influenced his decision to leae Chelsea in 2017.

Mikel said, “Conte was the reason why I left [Chelsea]. Once he came in, he was like, ‘You’re not playing anymore.’ Then I left. Obviously, when I saw Conte coming into the club, I was like, ‘My time here is done.’

“The only reason is when he came in, me and Victor Moses and we got invited to the [Nigerian] national team for the Olympics. So, I had a conversation with the club and he [Conte] said, ‘If you go, you’re not playing anymore for the club. Because I’m a new manager, we need to think about the club.’

“And I was like, ‘You know what? I’ve been invited to represent the country at the Olympics.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, but if you go just know that your time here is done.’

“So, I talked to Victor to stay back. I said, ‘I’ve been here a long time. I’ve won everything that I needed to win. You’re just coming, so you should stay.’ And he accepted. So, Victor stayed and I went. After the tournament when I came back, that was it. He [Conte] never spoke to me. He sent me to the reserve team. I was training with the reserves. Then I started training alone for a while. For like six months I did this.”

The 36-year-old Nigeria international joined the Chinese side, Tianjin TEDA after leaving Chelsea.