Super Eagles team captain and Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi, was expected to undergo a medical yesterday as he nears a move to Chinese Super League side, Tianjin TEDA.
The Nigeria international has held talks with Valencia, while Marseille and Inter Milan have also shown interest, but Tianjin are now at the front of the queue.
Antonio Conte has not included the midfielder in his plans this season, with Mikel out of the first-team picture and behind N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Nathaniel Chalobah in the pecking order.He has continued to train with the rest of the squad but a return to action at Stamford Bridge, where he has spent 11 years, has long-looked unlikely.
Tianjin, who count former Sporting Lisbon midfielder, Fredy Montero and ex-CSKA Moscow forward Wagner among their stars, are now offering a way out.
A three-year deal is understood to have been offered to Mikel.
Terms are yet to be finalised but the move is far enough along for a medical check to be undertaken ahead of the potential transfer.
Mikel is primed to leave Chelsea having won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League in his time in west London.
Mikel won a bronze medal with Nigeria in the Olympic football tournament last summer
He played in pre-season with Chelsea last summer but then left the squad to win an Olympic bronze medal with Nigeria in Rio and has not found a way back into Conte’s plans since.
Last week Valencia sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch revealed he had met with Mikel to discuss a move to La Liga.
‘In the case of Obi Mikel, with Chelsea’s permission, I met with him in London on Christmas Day,’ he said.
‘I informed him of the option [of joining Valencia]. He said he would think about it.’