John Obi Mikel will hold decisive talks over his Chelsea future this summer as he seeks to prolong his re-exposure to regular first-team football. The experienced Nigerian international has spent a decade at Stamford Bridge following a highly controversial transfer from Norwegian club Lyn in 2006, but looked likely to move on sooner rather than later having been consistently overlooked for a starting berth by former manager Jose Mourinho.
That situation changed drastically following Guus Hiddink's arrival in the Stamford Bridge dugout, however, with Mikel becoming a mainstay in midfield during the Dutchman's second interim spell in charge. The 28-year-old has made 17 appearances in all competitions since Mourinho was sacked just seven months after leading Chelsea to their first Premier League title in five years, praising the change in atmosphere and responsibility since that managerial switch.
Despite such positivity, Hiddink is only contracted until the end of the season and there has never been any real expectation that he would take the job on a full-time basis. Former Juventus favourite Antonio Conte is widely expected to take the reins after confirming that he will relinquish his role as Italy boss after the European Championships and with Mikel set to become a free agent in June 2017, he will be seeking clear assurances over his role in the new regime.
"I have one more season with Chelsea but I know when this season ends, we will definitely sit down and try to sort out whatever needs to be sorted out," he told Goal. "If it means me leaving, fine. If it means me staying, then I have to play because one thing I don't want to do is to sit on the bench like I did before.
"It's not very nice, especially now when you have kids you just want to do what you can to play. Wherever it is I just want to play. When this season ends we will definitely sort out the contracts. Legacy is important and I'm very proud and happy that I've kept this legacy to be able to achieve what I have achieved."
Mikel has enjoyed prolific success at Chelsea despite not always being considered as a permanent starter, winning two league titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups in addition to both major European competitions. The player's representative previously claimed that Chelsea have already instigated contact over a new deal, although it seems that for now he is happy to wait amid supposed interest from East Asia.
"Chelsea have approached him for an extension of his contract but he said after the season he will decide," an agent said earlier in March. "He has so many teams interested in him, almost three clubs in China want him."