Nigeria international and Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has joined Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA on a free transfer.
The Nigerian has become the second Chelsea player to join the Chinese Super League this transfer window after Oscar, who joined Shanghai SIPG for a transfer fee reported to be around €60 million.
The 29-year-old has made 372 appearances for Chelsea since joining in 2006 from Norwegian side FK Lyn, winning two English Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, and two European titles in 2012 and 2013.
Mikel said in a statement: “As you will know, I haven’t featured as much this season as I would have liked, and at 29 I still have many years in the game ahead of me.
“With this in mind, I feel now is the time to seek a new challenge.
“I’m delighted to be joining Tianjin TEDA FC in China, at a time that the Chinese Super League is really taking off, and I look forward to helping Tianjin TEDA FC continue to grow both on and off the pitch in the next few years.”
He added: To Mr Abramovich, the club’s staff, coaches, physios, and to the managers I played under at Chelsea, I want to say ‘thank you.’
“To everyone at Chelsea — goodbye, and thank you. You will always be part of who I am, and I wish you the best of luck. I could not be happier to be saying goodbye with the club back where it belongs — top of the league,” the Nigerian concluded.
Mikel, who will earn £140,000 a week, has become Tianjin TEDA’s fourth African player after deals for Mbaye Diagne, Zainadine Júnior, and former Al Ahly forward Malick Evouna, who joined the Chinese side after spending only one season with the Egyptian champions.
It’s worth mentioning that Tianjin TEDA are managed by former Zamalek manager Jaime Pacheco and have finished the last season in the 11th place, four points above the relegation zone.