Chelsea manager Antonio Conte claims he was “sorry” to see Super Eagles captain Mikel John Obi leave Stamford Bridge to join Tianjin TEDA.
Mikel who joined Chelsea as a 19-year-old from Norwegian Premier League side Lyn in 2006, but left Chelsea this month to join the Chinese Super League club after failing to break into Conte’s side in the first half of the 2016/17 season.
Speaking during his press conference on Friday on speculations linking Branislav Ivanovic with a move away from Chelsea, Conte revealed that he was not the happiest man in the world when the Mikel departed the Stamford Bridge club.
“I think Ivan (Ivanovic), he played a lot of games for this club and he won a lot for this club.
“He is 32 and I think he can play for many years.
“He is able to continue his career in the right way at the top level. But it is also important to respect the decision of the player.
“This type of a player is a legend in the club and if you are not playing a lot you can make a decision to go and play with another team.
“For sure because when you start the season to work with a squad and a group of players you try to create a link between the players and I, my staff.
“For sure, we are sorry if someone decides to go away. The same for Oscar and for Mikel, for example.
“But we know this is football and we are prepared for every situation,” Conte said.
Mikel won 11 trophies during his time at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles and one Uefa Champions League title.