The 29-year-old insists his move to Tianjin Teda on a three year deal wasn’t all about money, despite the fact that he will be getting double his former pay in China.
Mikel Obi stressed that his move was in order to get playing time, and primarily to aid Nigeria’s push to be at the 2018 World Cup in Brazil.
“I could easily have stayed in Chelsea for the remaining six months of my contract but it won’t be in the best interest of my nation, as they need me match fit when the World Cup 2018 qualifiers resume.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make but I seriously need matches to stay fit for Nigeria. Nigerians don’t deserve to miss out of the World Cup after back to back failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.”
Mikel who was frozen out of the first team picture by Chelsea coach, Antonio Conte, has however remained a regular pick for the national team duties, despite his lack of games at club level.
Mikel has reportedly been paid £2 million (N763 million) by Chelsea as a severance package upon his move to Chinese club Tianjin TEDA.
OwngoalNigeria reports that the fee was in recognition of his services for 10 and a half years. It was calculated as the remaining six months of his Chelsea contract up front which was expected to expire in the summer.
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles captain has featured in his first match for his new Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.
In a post he captioned ‘First friendly game with the team #TianjinTEDA’, Mikel Obi took to his Instagram on Wednesday, January, 11, 2017 to post a picture of himself posing with his new team-mates in the heat as the Chinese side played Borussia Monchengladbach II in a friendly duel.