Mourinho Wanted Paul Pogba At Chelsea

Manchester United made waves in the transfer market this summer when they re-signed their former midfielder Paul Pogba for a world-record £89 million, but had previously been the subject of interest from the Red Devils’ new manager José Mourinho when he was at Chelsea, according to Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola.

Pogba was allowed to leave Manchester United for free in 2012, heading to Juventus when Alex Ferguson decided he didn’t have what it takes to make the grade at Old Trafford. He was just eighteen at the time and has now returned to Manchester as a 23-year-old in a deal that caused some to raise eyebrows at the expense. He could easily have been playing for Mourinho earlier than this summer, however, according to comments his agent has made to Rai Sport.

The Italy midfielder was the subject of interest from the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ when he was still in charge at Stamford Bridge, however the deal was unable to be completed because Raiola had made an agreement with Juve that Pogba could leave as long as the Italian giants won the Serie A title and the Champions League. Juventus won a fifth consecutive Serie A title last season, equalling an Italian record, but they missed out on Champions League victory when Bayern Munich knocked them out of the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Things didn’t work out for Mourinho either, with the Portuguese manager being dismissed from his post in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat by the club’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich in December, having led Chelsea to their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. He has since gone on to take over from Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United, but things could have been so much different for all concerned according to Pogba’s agent.

Raiola said, “Paul could have left last year because Mourinho – then at Chelsea – really wanted him. But Juventus and I had agreement: win the league title and the Champions League, then he can go”.

Raiola believes that Aurelio De Laurentiis, the president of Italian club Napoli, will be sending his client a present as a thank you. Pogba’s move to United allowed Juventus to invest €90 million in the signing of Napoli’s striker Gonzalo Higuain; a huge sum of money for a 28-year-old forward. Raiola said, “De Laurentiis should be giving Paul a present, because without his departure Juventus would never have bought Higuain, and he would never have been able to bank all that money”.

Pogba has made five appearances in the Premier League so far for Manchester United, scoring one goal. He’s also appeared twice in the Europa League but has failed to find the net in that competition. As the Italian struggles to re-find his feet in England Chelsea will believe that Raiola’s agreement with Juventus has helped them to dodge a bullet.

Cesc Fabregas Left Out Of The Spain Squad

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has been left out of Spain’s squad to face Italy and Albania in the country’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers, it has been revealed.

Julen Lopetegui, who was appointed as Vincente Del Bosque’s replacement as Spain manager in August, named his Spain team this week and has left out Fabregas, much as he did when he named his first Spain squad. The 29-year-old has made 110 appearances for Spain over the years, being part of the squad that won the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships in both 2008 and 2012.

He has struggled for game time under Chelsea’s new head coach Antonio Conte, however, with the former Italy national manager only starting Fabregas in one Premier League game so far this season. That was last weekend’s 3-0 loss to Arsenal in the London derby. The midfielder lasted just 55 minutes before being replaced by fellow Spaniard Marcos Alonso, meaning that Lopetegui felt he has not had enough minutes on the pitch to be able to be part of his 23-man squad.

Fabregas’ former Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata was part of Lopetegui’s first squad, but has not been called up this time even though he has impressed for Manchester United so far this season and scored in the Red Devils’ 4-1 win over Leicester City at the weekend. His current team-mate Diego Costa is part of the squad after being left out of the Spanish squad for the European Championships in France during the summer.

Costa, who is known to have a combustible personality and has walked the disciplinary tightrope for the Blues in a number of games so far this season, has scored five goals for Chelsea in the Premier League in their opening six games. He also scored two for Spain when they faced Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifying game earlier in the season.

The Spain squad in full sees Manchester United’s David de Gea join Pepe Reina, who plays for Napoli, and Sergio Rico at Sevilla as the goalkeepers. Barcelona’s defensive trio of Jordi Alba, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto are joined in defence by Real Madrid’s own trio of Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Nacho as well as Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez.

In midfield there are two Barcelona players in the shape of Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta, Atlético Madrid’s Saúl Ñíguez and Koke, Thiago Alcántara from Bayern Munich, Isco from Real Madrid and David Silva from Manchester City. They will support the Spain attack which features Costa alongside Manchester City’s Nolito, the Real Madrid pair of Álvaro Morata and Lucas Vázquez, José Callejón from Napoli and Sevilla’s Vitolo.

Fabregas will be hoping that he can force his way into Antonio Conte’s plans in the coming weeks in order to revitalise his international career. He made 303 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 57 goals, before moving to Barcelona and getting on the scoresheet 42 times in 151 matches. So far for Chelsea he has scored thirteen goals in 100 games in all competitions, including eight goals in 74 appearances in the Premier League.

Hull v Chelsea Match Preview (Premier League) – Saturday 1st October 2016

After three league games without a win, Chelsea really need to gain three points at the KCOM Stadium. The players have had a week to reflect on their dismantling by Arsenal, but will they improve here? Antonio Conte has no doubt been drilling them defensively, so they’ve got to up their game at the back against the Tigers.

Hull have lost their last two games by a pretty heavy margin, which has seen them tumble down the table. After Arsenal beat them 4-1, they went to Anfield and lost 5-1. They still haven’t appointed a permanent manager, with Mike Phelan in caretaker charge so far. They have a very thin squad which doesn’t look up to it at this level, so this is a great opportunity for the Blues.

However, recent games have seen Conte’s men struggle. David Luiz and Gary Cahill were torn apart by Arsenal’s attack last week. The Blues have been given a boost with John Terry expected to return. Kurt Zouma isn’t too far away either, he could return in two to three weeks. That should lead to an improvement at the back, with more leadership and some competition for places.

Last weekend saw a move to 3-5-2 for Chelsea late in the game. Their issues seemed to be fixed by that tweak, but it’s unlikely we’ll see that formation in from the start here. While the switch seemed to give the Blues more options on the ball, it’s not one that John Terry can really play in.

Playing with wing backs leaves Terry exposed, as there’s no full back to his left. He’d also have a rampaging David Luiz to his left, which would leave him even more exposed. Conte isn’t going to leave the captain out after his return, and he won’t play in a fashion that makes the defender vulnerable. A return to the usual 4-1-4-1 is likely.

Despite back to back defeats, we probably won’t see too many changes from Conte. With neither Oscar or Cesc Fabregas really impressing in the league, he could slot Michy Batshuayi in and switch to his 4-2-4 formation. That does seem like a risky move given how poorly they’ve been at the back.

Despite Hull’s struggles, they need to be taken seriously. Their spirit led them to six points from their opening two games. While they were hammered in their last two league games, they’re facing very different opposition. Plus, the Blues struggled here two years ago on their way to the title. They had to work for a 3-2 victory.

If the Blues can remain focused, this is a great chance for them to take a much needed win. Terry’s return should make a big difference, and the Tigers aren’t packed with goals. If Conte figures out a way to keep Robert Snodgrass quiet, they’d struggle. We’re backing the Blues to edge this one, as they recover from their recent rough patch.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

On-Loan Chelsea Youngster Reminiscent Of Ian Wright, Says Bristol City Boss

John Pemberton believes that Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, who is on-loan with his Bristol City side, has some of former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright’s qualities and reminds the Robins’ boss of the player he worked alongside at Crystal Palace.

The eighteen-year-old scored his tenth goal of the season at the weekend, as City destroyed Fulham 4-0. Pemberton, who was a defender for the Eagles when Wright was playing for them, said, “Tammy is very much like Ian Wright with regard to being in the right place at the right time. Ian Wright could create something out of nothing and Tammy is the same with regards to goalscoring”.

Bristol City were concerned that the departure of Jonathan Kodjia to Aston Villa in the summer might leave them light in the final third, given that the Villans new £11 million man scored 20 goals in 52 games and was City’s record goalscorer last season. They did everything they could to keep him as nobody at Ashton Gate wanted him to go. Pemberton said, “At the time, we really didn’t want to lose Jonathan and we tried to persuade him to stay. He wanted to go and, when he did, I’d be lying if I said we were not a little bit worried”.

The goalscoring prowess of the Chelsea loanee has taken a few people by surprise, however. Such is his ability that the Bristol City manager believes he hasn’t been missed. He said, “Tammy has been absolutely outstanding. Because of the way he has performed, we have hardly missed Jonathan Kodjia at all. None of us could have imagined that situation a month ago”.

Kodja, who arrived in Bristol from the French side Angers for £3.2 million, scored one goal in his four games for City before moving to Villa Park. He has since found the net just once in five games and Pemberton said, “To be honest, I think we’ve got the better end of the deal at the moment”.

The Bristol City manager praised the Chelsea striker’s desire to learn, saying, “He is like a sponge, he wants to take everything on board. He’s frightening and he just has this knack of getting there when you think he can’t do it, and that is something Wrighty had as well”.

Abraham has scored two goals against both Burton Albion and Sheffield Wednesday and also found the net against Villa, Fulham and Rotherham. He managed to shake off a dead-leg in order to play against Leeds United last night and failed to score for the first time in five games. His form has seen him rocket to the top of the Championship goalscoring charts and some bookies have reduced the odds of him finishing as top-scorer from 66/1 to 8/1.

Conte: I Need Time To Improve Chelsea

Chelsea’s new head coach Antonio Conte has asked for time to improve Chelsea after a poor season last time out, with the manager aware that expectations surrounding the club are probably separate from the reality of the situation as it currently is.

The Blues endured their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s under José Mourinho last season. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked in December and replaced by Guus Hiddink on an interim basis, much as Phil Scolari was in 2009. Back then the Dutchman led Chelsea to an FA Cup win and a top four finish. This time out, however, the best he could manager was the quarter-finals of the world’s oldest club football tournament and tenth place in the Premier League.

Chelsea have been in the mix for at least one trophy in almost every season since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, so the club’s fans have come to expect a level of success that puts pressure on its managers from an early stage. Indeed, four previous managers have lasted just eight months in charge at Stamford Bridge and the former Juventus boss may be aware of Abramovich’s lack of patience when it comes to under-performing bosses.

Conte, who has seen his side pick up just one point from the last nine available to them in the Premier League as well as narrowly missing out on an exit from the EFL Cup at the hands of Leicester City, believes that his methods are the right ones and that things will turn for the Blues with time. He said, “It is normal when you start work in a new team and you bring a new idea and method of football you need time. But I’m confident about this and trust in the work. We can improve a lot”.

Chelsea won their first three league games, including two derbies against West Ham United and Watford, as well as beating Bristol Rovers in the EFL Cup before the international break. Since then, however, they have failed to win a league game and needed extra-time to get past the Foxes in the third round of the cup. The drew 2-2 with Swansea City at The Liberty Stadium, lost 2-1 at home to Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and lost 3-0 away to Arsenal. They have conceded nine goals in their last four games in all competitions, something that has annoyed the defensive minded Italian.

The Blues conceded 53 goals in the league under Mourinho and Hiddink last term and have kept just a single clean-sheet in eight games so far this time out. Conte believes that hard work is vital if his side is to get back to the right end of the league table. He said, “When we concede a goal, all the team concede a goal, not only the defenders. It means we must work together to improve the defensive situation”.

The Chelsea manager stopped short of blaming his predecessors for the team’s defensive frailties but believes that the issues were present before he arrived. Now his team needs to buckle down and work together to stop the goals going in. He said, “This problem was already there last season. We must work a lot on this aspect because if you want a great championship you mustn’t concede so many goals”.

Conte was the twelfth different Chelsea manager that Arsene Wenger has faced as Arsenal manager during his time with the Gunners and Conte feels that is an incredible achievement. He said, “It is fantastic if someone is able to stay for 20 years in the same club. There is satisfaction in both sides”.

Perhaps mindful of his own situation at Stamford Bridge, the Italian was quick to point out that a manager’s career cannot only be summed up by the victories that he has overseen but the way he works with the club as a whole. He said, “Sometimes I think it is important to value a manager not only if he wins, loses or draws. Sometimes if you judge only if they win you make a big mistake and you pay for this in the future”.

In the wake of his side’s loss to their London rivals the former Italy national manager questioned his players’ commitment and attitude. He is unsure whether the Chelsea team have been believing their own press, saying, “We must work a lot because we are a great team only on paper. [From] the first minute we did not have the right attitude”.

The Chelsea manager re-iterated the need for his team to find more of a defensive balance and continuity, refusing to comment on whether or not he feels his team is already out of the title race. He said, “We have not got the balance and now is the moment to consider everything. It is incredible to concede three goals. We must find a solution. The most important thing is to work and not think about the situation [with the title]”.

Chelsea Have No Excuses, Says Eden Hazard

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard believes that the club has ‘no excuses’ for its current form and that he and his team-mates need to stop allowing their opponents to score such easy goals.

The Belgian was speaking to the club’s official website about their back-to-back Premier League losses to Liverpool and Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal. They both came on the back of the Blues’ 2-2 draw with Swansea City at The Liberty Stadium, meaning that they have taken just one point from the last nine available and have conceded seven goals in the process.

Chelsea conceded two goals in the first-half of their game against Liverpool before doing the same thing in an EFL Cup game against Leicester City last week and then conceding three in the opening 45 minutes against the Gunners. They managed to take the cup game against the defending Premier League champions into extra-time before going on to win 4-2 and they also pulled a goal back against Liverpool, but Hazard believes that their defensive lapses means the team is asking too much of the attacking players.

The Belgian said, “Every weekend at the moment we having to come back and score. We did it at Leicester [in the EFL cup] but against Arsenal, who were playing at home, it was not possible. They played well. We need to be better. In the last three games in the league there have been nine points available and we have got one”.

The fixtures don’t get much easier for Antonio Conte’s side, with a trip to The KC Stadium to face a Hull side that nearly took a point from Manchester United followed by a league game against Leicester and the arrival of United themselves to Stamford Bridge – including the return of former boss José Mourinho. They then have the London derby against West Ham United at The Olympic Stadium in the fourth round of the EFL Cup before facing an in-form Southampton to round off October.

Hazard believes that the team’s form needs to improve drastically if they’re hoping to take maximum points from the big games ahead of them. He said, “It is disappointing. We need to go away and work on what we are doing wrong ahead of the big matches that are coming up”.

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill made a mistake at the weekend that gifted a goal to Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez for the game’s opener last weekend before Hazard himself neglected to track the run of Gunners’ defender Hector Bellerin who crossed it in for their London rivals to score a second through Theo Walcott. Hazard knows that these are the sorts of mistakes that Chelsea need to cut out if they’re hoping to challenge for the title this year. He said, There are no excuses. It was not good. We lost too many duels. We came to win the match but we made mistakes, for the first goal, another for the second and then before we knew it we were already 3-0 down”.

His team-mate Nemanja Matic believes that the players have to realise that they’re playing for one of the biggest clubs in world football. They also need to listen to the club’s new head coach Antonio Conte as he tries to help them get their season back on track. The Italian enjoyed an excellent start to his managerial life at Stamford Bridge, winning his first three games in charge against the Hammers, Watford, Bristol Rovers in the EFL Cup and Burnley.

They have failed to get a win on the board since the international break, however, and Matic believes that the former Juventus and Italy national manager will have identified where the Blues are going wrong. He said, “We have to know we play for a big club and we have to recover as soon as possible and be focused on the next game. I’m sure the coach will see where the problem is”.

Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea Match Report – 24th September 2016

Chelsea were humiliated at the Emirates as their defensive vulnerabilities were put on show. First half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil gave the Gunners a first win over the Blues in the league since 2011. Antonio Conte’s men were unable to respond, bringing an end to a damaging month for the club.

Cesc Fabregas got a first league start after his EFL Cup heroics. The Spaniard replaced Oscar in midfield, playing just behind Diego Costa. Once again there was no John Terry, so Gary Cahill and David Luiz were paired at the back. Branislav Ivanovic came back, replacing Marcos Alonso and taking up the captain’s armband.

There was a clear problem very early on, as the defence sat deep and the midfield tried to press high. That left the back four marooned when they had possession, and it played into Arsenal’s hands. Gary Cahill panicked when pressed by Sanchez, and his attempted back pass let the Chilean in to open the scoring. It wasn’t much different to the incident at Swansea a few weeks back, minus the clear foul.

Cahill and the rest of the defence looked shell-shocked, and that’s exactly when the Gunners hit top form. A fantastic passing move ripped the Blues’ defence apart, and Walcott was on hand for a tap in to make it 2-0. It’s been almost four years since the Blues have conceded twice in the opening 15 minutes of a game.

Despite the obvious problems, nothing was changed by Conte in the first half. Chelsea failed to get close to their former keeper Petr Cech. They looked to be hanging on until half time, before another mix up caught them out. Ozil started a breakaway with just Luiz and Cahill back. The German fed Sanchez, who was followed by both of the Blues’ defenders. That left Ozil free in the box to send a volley past Thibaut Courtois and in off the post.

Changes were made in the second half, Fabregas was withdrawn for Alonso. The Blues switched to a back five, with Cesar Azpilicueta moving to the right, Ivanovic moved centrally, and everything looked a little more organised. There were a lot more options on the ball in the new formation, and Arsenal struggled to assert themselves on the game.

However, that isn’t a long term solution. John Terry isn’t entirely comfortable in a back three with wing backs. Leaving him without a left back beside him leaves him exposed. While there were marked improvements in the latter stages at the Emirates, there are still a lot of problems for Antonio Conte to sort out.

Even worse, this defeat leaves them eighth in the table. The Blues now look like the sixth or seventh horse in the race for the top four. If they’re going to force their way into the fight for the Champions League, Conte will have to find a system which can mesh the different elements, and weaknesses, of his squad together.

Next up for the Blues is a trip to Hull, with Leicester heading to Stamford Bridge the other side of the international break. Six points, you would feel, have to be achieved from these two games.

LCN Chelsea Man of the Match: Willian

Alvaro Morata: Chelsea Made A Bid For Me

Alvaro Morata has claimed that Chelsea made an attempt to sign him this summer when he moved from Juventus back to his former club Real Madrid.

The Spanish international made the move from Real Madrid to Juve back in June of 2014 for a fee of around £17 million. The Spanish giants opted to initiate a buyback clause of £23 million that they had inserted into his contract when he made the move to Italy two years ago in order to take him back to the Bernabeu.

The striker scored 27 goals in 93 games for Juve after he was signed to the Italian club by the current Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. Speaking to the German newspaper Sport Bild the forward admitted that he was tempted by a move to Stamford Bridge after his former boss was one of those most keen for his signature.

Morata said, “Chelsea showed the most interest”. He also said that the offer for his signature was a significant one that would have made him a record signing, “Antonio Conte had already signed me for Juventus and it was a very good offer this time. I would have been the most expensive Spanish player ever”.

The 23-year-old has got off to a good start to his life in Spain, having netted twice in his opening five games for Los Blancos. His goals have helped his former club to the top of the La Liga table and they’ll be hoping that he continues his good form moving forward. He’ll also be keen to replicate the form that he had in Turin that persuaded Real to re-sign him this summer.

He was tempted to make a move to West London but confessed that heading back to the Bernabeu was an opportunity that was too good to turn down. He said, “They offered roughly 70 million Euros, but Real Madrid said they had me in their plans and that was always my dream”.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will be hoping that the player that they signed as an alternative to Morata will be able to continue the form he’s had since his big money move to Stamford Bridge. Michy Batshuayi was brought in for around £33 million from Marseille in the summer. The Belgian international has so far scored three goals in his six appearances but has been playing second fiddle to Diego Costa since his arrival.

The 22-year-old scored 44 goals in 120 appearances in all competitions for Standard Liege, earning him a £4.5 million move to the French club. He scored 33 goals in 78 games at the Stade Vélodrome, enough to catch the attention of Antonio Conte and persuade the Chelsea head coach to splash out big money to take him to London.

Life Under Conte Is Tough, Says Cesc Fabregas

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has said that he’s finding life at Stamford Bridge ‘tough’ under new head coach Antonio Conte.

The Spaniard is yet to start a game for the Blues in the Premier League, though he has started both EFL Cup games and scored two goals in extra time at The King Power Stadium on Tuesday night to help Chelsea reach the last sixteen. It’s something that he’s been struggling to come to terms with. He said, “It’s a new situation for me in my career after 13 years of basically playing all the time for my club and national team. And it’s been tough – I’m not going to deny it. But the last thing I will do is complain or put my hands up and give in”.

Fabregas admits that there’s an extent to which it has caused him to abandon any malaise that might have set him and now he’s having to re-double his efforts to get Conte’s attention. He said, “Something from inside is coming out stronger than ever and I just feel like a little boy in training trying to win my spot back as I used to do at Arsenal when I was 16. Hopefully I will achieve it again”.

The 29-year-old knows that Conte has the ultimate power at Stamford Bridge and that it is his job as a player to impress the coach and persuade him that he should be in the starting XI. Conte’s experience as the manager of the Italian national side as well as Juventus means that he’s earned the respect of his players. Fabregas, “My coach deserves respect because I know he wants to win and if he doesn’t play me there is always a reason. Hopefully I can open his eyes and make him see that I deserve to play”.

Chelsea head to The Emirates at the weekend where they will face Fabregas’ former club Arsenal. The midfielder says that he has had plenty of conversations with Conte and that the new boss has told him what he wants from his players in the middle of the pitch. He said, “He speaks a lot. He spoke to me a few times as well. He wants the midfielders to be very complete. To be physically strong”.

Fabregas’ strength has always been in creating rather than being destructive, though he’s also been known to engage in the dark arts when necessary. Now he’s trying to ensure that he can offer Chelsea defensive protection as much as the ability to go on the attack, as that is what Conte wants from his midfield. He said, “We are training very hard. Maybe I’m a bit more the playmaker, creative going forward and he wants me to be a little bit more stable and compact in defence”.

Fabregas made 303 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions and scored 57 goals. 212 of those appearances came in the league, as did 35 of the goals. In 2011 he moved to Barcelona for €29 million with an additional €5 million depending on certain factors. He made 151 appearances for the Catalan giants and scored 42 goals before making a transfer to West London for a fee believed to be in the region of €33 million. To date he has scored thirteen goals in 100 appearances in all competitions for the Blues.

John Obi Mikel Will Speak To Other Clubs Before Probable January Exit

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has said that he will be speaking to other clubs before the January transfer window, with a move away from Chelsea seeming increasingly likely.

Mikel was a regular starter under interim boss Guus Hiddink in the second-half of last season but has yet to make an appearance for the Blues since new head coach Antonio Conte took over at Stamford Bridge. He made 33 appearances for Chelsea in the last campaign, having been with the West London club for eleven years so far.

The Nigerian’s contract is due to expire in the summer and he has taken the fact that Chelsea have allowed to run down as a sign that it’s time for him to start looking for other clubs. Mikel was left out of Chelsea’s squad for the EFL Cup match against Leicester City at The King Power Stadium last night. He said, “When you have a year left, in January you are allowed to talk to other clubs and sign a pre-contract or have an agreement so, yes, I will talk to other clubs because you never know what is going to happen”.

The 29-year-old has not ruled out a move to a rival Premier League club, but he is also open to other options including a lucrative move to the Far East. Former players from the English top-flight including Tim Cahill, Graziano Pelle and ex-Blues Ramires and Demba Ba have all made big-money moves to the Chinese Super League in recent months, as have other well-known players such as Hulk, Asamoah Ryan and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Mikel is mostly concerned about making the right decision for his career. He said, “If it is going to be the Premier League there will be options. If it is China or some other places, we will see. One thing is for sure, I will make the best decision”.

The Nigerian midfielder signed for Chelsea in June of 2006 and has made 368 appearances in the first-team since then. He’s won two Premier League winners medals, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League with the West London side. He also won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 and a Bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in 2016.

Mikel’s original transfer to Chelsea was surrounded by controversy. When the player turned 18 in 2005 Manchester United announced to the world that they had made a deal with Lyn to sign him, with the club’s official website confirming that the payer had signed a contract with them. The deal was rumoured to be worth £4 million and he was expected to arrive at Old Trafford at the start of 2006. Chelsea then announced that they had already made a deal with the player and his representatives – something that his club Lyn denied.

Mikel was then presented to the world as a Manchester United player at a press conference, holding up a shirt and announcing that he was delighted to join the North-West club. He then disappeared whilst watching a Lyn match in Norway and the United assistant manager claimed he had been ‘kidnapped’ by Chelsea. He reappeared nine days later and claimed that he had been pressured to join Manchester United without his agents present. United and Lyn both made complaints to FIFA but Chelsea eventually settled the matter without the need to wait for FIFA’s decision. They paid Manchester United £12 million and Lyn £4 million.

Now it appears as if his career with Chelsea, which began in such controversial circumstances, is going to come to a somewhat less dramatic conclusion. Having spent the majority of his senior career in West London Mikel will be disappointed to be leaving but feels his future is bright. He said, “I’ve been here for a long, long time. I’ve spent 11 years of my life in this football club, it is my home. This season is the last at the club if my contract ends. I am quite relaxed about it, the future looks good”.