By Johnny Edward:
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte believes much-criticised midfielder Mikel Obi is still needed at the club despite the arrival of France midfielder N’Golo Kante, Completesportsnigeria.com can report.
Mikel faces a tough fight for playing time ahead of the coming season with the £30m arrival of Kante as well as the presence of Nemanja Matic in the squad.
The Nigeria captain has been linked with a move away from the club this summer with Turkish champions Besiktas reportedly in talks with him.
But Conte insists the 29-year-old, who struggled in the friendly againt Rapid Vienna where he played for 58 minutes in the Italian’s first game in charge on Saturday, is still important.
“I want to say Kante was a target and for this reason I’m very happy the club bought the player,” Conte told the Chelsea website after the 2-0 pre-season defeat at Rapid Vienna. He’s a good player.
“He has good technique, fantastic stamina and I like this type of player. If you want to win a team needs this type of player – Kante, Matic and Mikel – that work hard for the team.”
The 25-year-old Kante becomes Conte’s second major signing ahead of the new English Premier League season after Michy Batshuayi.
Mikel has played 372 games for Chelsea since making his debut in 2006.