Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi says he took a risk by opting to represent Nigeria in the football event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games instead of staying for pre-season and fighting to impress new coach Antonio Conte – who has told the Nigerian to return to London with the gold medal.
The former Lyn Oslo player will captain the Nigeria U-23 side at the games.
He will miss the start of the season for Chelsea and face a tough fight to earn a starting berth with the Blues in the new season.
“I explained to the club (Chelsea) that I wanted to go to the Olympics and I thank them for their understanding,” the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner told the London Evening Standard.
“The coach gave me his blessing. He told me to make sure I do well and bring back the gold medal.
“Obviously, it is hard to be away because I want to impress the new coach. It’s a risk I have taken but I stand by that.”
Mikel also confirmed he will stay with the Stamford Bridge side for at least one more season despite the glut of midfielders now at the club.
Frenchman N’Golo Kante has arrived from champions Leicester City and is exepcted to play a key role for the Blues in the new season.
Youngsters Chalobah and Ruben Loftus Cheek have also impressed in pre-season and are pushing for a place in the first team.
The likes of Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Oscar are all still around and competition for places in the squad is expected to be stiffer next term.
The former Lyn Oslo of Norway player is however undaunted by the task and is willing to give it a strong fight.
“I am definitely staying at Chelsea and I will try to give my best to the club like I have always done,”he told the Standard.
“For 10 years I have been going to the same training ground and locker room. It is an amazing club with an amazing owner.
“Chelsea are like a family to me. It is a place that has become part of me.
“I have a year left and then we see what happens. If I play well this season, it will help me earn a new contract.
“I will give 120 percent everytime I’m on the pitch or come off the bench. I will always give my best.
“If Chelsea want to talk we will talk. If I have to move on there will be plenty of clubs out there where I can continue.
“It will be but these things happen. You have to move on one day. My happy memories of Chelsea will never go.”
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