Former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia has insisted that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is not punishing Mikel Obi, but that the midfielder was never part of his plans.
Mikel Obi is yet to make a single appearance under the Italian tactician and many pundits have claimed he is paying the price for representing Nigeria at the 2016 Olympics.
Siasia, who was coach of the team at the competition, said: “I don’t believe Mikel was being punished because he went to the Rio Olympics with the Nigerian team. Conte does not have him in his plans. That was why he even allowed him to go to the Games and he bought Kante as a replacement. So all these talks about being punished is not true.
“As far as I am concerned Mikel has paid his dues with Chelsea and had won whatever is there to win with the club, and there is no better time to move on than now. After serving the club for over 10 years, there can be no better time to leave than now.”
He continues: “Mikel told me that he has made up his mind to leave Chelsea, and if he does not leave in January, he would leave in the summer.
“He has excelled for both club and country, and does not deserve to just be a squad member at Chelsea. He should be playing regular football.”