Chelsea midfield mainstay linked with potential move to Italy

Abu Diaby & John Obi Mikel

Inter Milan are reportedly keen on bringing in Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel next season.

Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport has linked Serie A side Inter Milan with a move for Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel. It is likely that any move would require a bid of around €15 million for the Italian side, but they are keen to have the Nigerian team up with new Brazilian signing Hernanes and Colombian Freddy Guarin next season.

Still only 26-years-old, the central midfielder has been at Chelsea since 2006 making over 200 appearances for the London club. His current contract runs until 2017 but his lack of game time this season could spark interest in a move, although it's a not a position of the field where Chelsea have a lot of strength in depth. Mikel’s time at Chelsea has been mixed, his performances have not lived up to the early promise and perhaps Mourinho would be willing to listen to offers.

With Jose Mourinho in charge, Mikel has only made nine starts this season. The Portuguese manager has often picked Frank Lampard and Ramires as his central midfield duo. Then in January, Chelsea re-signed Nemanja Matic from Benfica, and the 25-year-old has already impressed in his four appearances. Matic definitely provides more of a threat than Mikel going forward, but has also given a strong defensive showing in his recent games.

Matic has three goals this season, all coming for Benfica, whereas famously, Mikel has only ever found the net once for Chelsea. That goal came this season in the FA Cup third round match against Derby County, and it may be too little, too late for the Nigerian international.

The move to Italy could be the ideal opportunity for Mikel, he is a player still in his prime, and he would be confident of making that deep midfield position his own. His main competition for a place would be against Argentine veteran Esteban Cambiasso. Mikel would instantly bring his unique brand of energy and power to the Inter Milan midfield.

It was Jose Mourinho that brought Mikel to Chelsea in 2006 amidst a hugely controversial transfer-saga. It says a lot that his possible departure would be sanctioned by the man who brought him to Chelsea, although his departure would likely be a lot quieter than his arrival.

images: © Ronnie Macdonald, © Ronnie Macdonald

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